OSHA cites two Ohio companies for exposing workers to dangerous levels of lead, serious fall hazards

One faces $119,000 in proposed penalties; the other faces $49,600.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Mar 25, 2014

Two Ohio companies, Durable Slate Co. and Spectrum Painting, have been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for exposing workers to dangerous levels of lead from lead-based paint and serious fall hazards while restoring an historical building in Lima. Proposed penalties total $119,000 and $49,600, respectively.

OSHA initiated an inspection of both companies in September 2013 after receiving a referral from a health care provider, which found high levels of lead in blood samples from employees of both companies. The employees were removing lead-based paint from the exterior of an historic home. Lead exposure can cause fatigue, nausea and long-term damage to the central nervous system.

“Lead overexposure is a leading cause of serious workplace illness,” said Kim Nelson, OSHA’s area director in Toledo. “Compliance with OSHA’s standards will protect workers by minimizing their exposure to lead. Companies that specialize in this work must have an effective program to ensure the safety and health of their workers.”

Columbus-based Durable Slate Co., which operates as Durable Restoration, was cited for one willful violation. A willful violation was issued for failing to conduct initial exposure monitoring to determine if employees were exposed to lead above the permissible level when scraping lead-based paint. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Durable Slate was also issued seven serious violations, five of which were violations of OSHA’s lead exposure standards, including failure to ensure workers wore protective clothing; train workers on lead hazards; provide changing areas and adequate hand-washing stations; and implement a written lead compliance program. The company was also cited for failing to develop a respiratory protection program and to provide fall protection for employees that were working at heights of approximately 13 feet. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA has created a Stop Falls Web page at http://www.osha.gov/stopfalls with detailed information in English and Spanish on fall protection standards. The page offers fact sheets, posters and videos that vividly illustrate various fall hazards and appropriate preventive measures. OSHA standards require that an effective form of fall protection be in use when workers perform construction activities 6 feet or more above the next lower level.

Spectrum Painting, based in Bellefontaine, was cited for two willful and eight serious violations.

Two willful violations were cited for failing to provide respiratory protection and personal protective clothing as interim protection before an initial lead exposure assessment was conducted.

Spectrum Painting’s eight serious violations included five for violations of OSHA’s lead exposure standards, including failing to conduct initial medical surveillance; develop and implement a written lead compliance program; and provide changing areas and adequate hand-washing stations. The company was also cited for failing to develop a written hazard communication program, provide fall protection and improper use of ladders.

The current citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citation... and http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citation...

Both companies have 15 business days from receipt of their citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Toledo Area Office at 419-259-7542.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.  

Comments

shovelhead

Thanks for making us safe, big brother. Pretty soon we can all be safe on the couch when the government whipes out all the private business.

rickross2

They impose these fines and give zero to the workers. Why the big fine? Where does that money go? Why shouldn't the people who's lives they put in danger get the money?

tginyc1

Is it really an over reach of the government to ensure that businesses are providing safe work environments for the their employees? The situations described in the article have the potential to cause long-term, serious harm. If a company wants to gamble with the safety of employees they deserve to get fined.

As for where that money goes, I was also curious about that answer. I found that all money collected by OSHA fines is required, by law, to go into the US Treasury General Fund. Is that the best place for the money to go? It's debatable.

rickross2

I have no issue with a safe workplace. I have issue with giant fines that don't benefit the people who were put at risk. It's like when Hostess was on its way out, they owed the Unions 4+million dollars. For what? They paid their employees, but the union didn't get their money. So instead of coming to a peaceful solution, they tried to put the workers out on their butts to get their money! I hate corporate America!

tginyc1

Ditto that, rickross. Not too familiar with the Hostess story, but it doesn't sound all that surprising.