OSHA Cites Pa. Company for Worker Exposure to Lead on Project

March 7, 2006

A Johnstown, Pennsylvania company’s reported failure to adequately protect workers against lead exposure has resulted in a proposed penalty of $114,750 from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Citations against Shaw Steeple Jacks allege five willful, seven serious and four other-than-serious violations of OSHA’s lead standard.

A referral from the Allegheny County Health Department, Bureau of Environmental Health and Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention program led to an inspection by OSHA’s Pittsburgh office of a church steeple restoration project in Lancaster, Pa.

“Lead poison can damage the central nervous system, kidney, cardiovascular, blood and reproductive systems if absorbed into the body in high enough doses,” said Robert Szymanski, OSHA’s Pittsburgh area director. “This company was well aware of the hazards of lead but failed to protect their employees and consequently their families.”

OSHA’s citations charge that the company did not conduct a proper exposure assessment prior to the beginning of the project, provide personal protective clothing or a change area for lead contaminated clothing, monitor blood levels or provide training to those workers removing lead. These willful violations account for $105,000 of the penalty.

The serious citations, with a penalty of $9,750, and four other-than-serious citations, with no penalty, concern other hazards associated with lead.

The agency cites a violation as willful when committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious injury could occur.

The company has 15 working days to contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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