Lead Exposure Brings $287,440 in Fines from OSHA
Lead exposure can cause long term damage to the central nervous system, urinary, blood and reproductive systems. Without proper protection, employees who encounter lead in the work place can bring this toxic metal home on their clothes, hair and hands. Family members, including pregnant women and children, are put at risk for lead poisoning as a result.
Employees of Chicago-based Era Valdivia Contractors, Inc. and their families were exposed to dangerous lead hazards while workers were sandblasting the steel structure of the Francisco Avenue Bridge without personal protective equipment. OSHA initiated an inspection of the company under the National Emphasis Program for Lead. “OSHA’s investigation found that the company had performed tests that indicated dangerous lead exposure in the early stages of the project. The company made a conscious decision not to protect its workers,” said Kathy Webb, OSHA’s Area Director in Calumet City.
Notably, the company had been cited 13 previous times for violating the lead construction standards. On this occasion, OSHA issued four willful, one serious and two repeated safety violations. These citations carried $287,440 in proposed fines.
OSHA estimates that approximately 804,000 workers in general industry and an additional 838,000 in construction are potentially exposed to lead regularly.