OSHA Cites Arms Plant for Lead Exposure, Firing Range Hazards

OSHA has proposed $115,500 in fines against Kahr Arms of Worcester, Mass., for alleged willful and serious violations of workplace health and safety standards at its Goddard Memorial Drive manufacturing plant and testing facility.

The citations and fines follow OSHA inspections initiated in response to employee complaints and chiefly concern inadequate safeguards against employees' overexposure to lead on the plant's firing ranges and to being struck by rebounding fragments during test firing of weapons.

"Adequate safeguards were not present to reduce and minimize the effects of these hazards on employees' health and safety," said Mary Hoye, OSHA's area director in Springfield.

Specifically, OSHA found that the plant did not perform the required quarterly monitoring to determine employees' lead exposure levels during range-clearing operations and did not implement engineering controls to reduce those exposure levels. These conditions resulted in the issuance of two willful citations with $98,000 in proposed penalties. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

OSHA also issued the company seven serious citations, with $17,500 in fines, for additional deficiencies in lead monitoring and controls, lack of protective clothing, not requiring lead-exposed employees to shower at the end of each work shift, deficiencies in the plant's respirator program, and failing to adequately shield employees against being struck by rebounding bullet fragments during test-firing operations. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

Lead is a cumulative poison that can, over time, damage the body's blood, nervous, neurological and reproductive systems. OSHA standards mandate the steps employers must take to protect their employees against lead exposure. Detailed information about lead hazards and safeguards, including an interactive e-Tool, is available online at www.osha.gov/SLTC/lead/index.htm.

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