Company Fined $188,500 for Exposing Workers to Lead, More

"Simsmetal East knowingly put its workers at risk by failing to protect them from overexposure to lead, which can cause brain damage, paralysis, kidney disease, and even death," said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA's Parsippany Area Office in New Jersey.

OSHA has issued citations to Simsmetal East LLC, doing business as Sims Metal Management, for exposing workers to lead hazards at its Claremont Terminal site in Jersey City, N.J. Proposed penalties total $188,500.

“Simsmetal East knowingly put its workers at risk by failing to protect them from overexposure to lead, which can cause brain damage, paralysis, kidney disease, and even death,” said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA’s Parsippany Area Office in New Jersey. “OSHA is fully committed to holding this company legally accountable for its blatant disregard of federal law.”

Following its investigations, OSHA cited the company for three willful violations with a penalty of $165,000 for allegedly failing to fit-test workers using tight-fitting, face-piece respirators prior to initial use of the respirator; make an initial determination if workers were exposed to unhealthy levels of airborne lead; and ensure all surfaces were maintained free of lead accumulations. Willful violations are those committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for legal requirements, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

The company was cited for 10 serious violations with a penalty of $23,500 for allegedly overexposing workers to lead; failing to fully implement a respiratory protection program; dry sweeping lead containing dust; failing to provide a clean change room, lunchroom facility, and separate storage facilities for work clothes; and failing to provide a closed container in which to place lead-contaminated protective clothing.

Additional serious citations allege electrical equipment exposed to physical damage; conductors not protected from abrasion; an electrical cord missing a ground pin, which intentionally directs circuits toward the ground to prevent electrical shock, injury, or death; lack of strain relief, which prevents damage on cords in use; and lack of visual inspection and hazards associated with safely exiting the facility. OSHA issues a serious citation when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

According to the company’s website, Sims Metal Management is the largest metals and electronics recycler in North America and Australia. The company has more than 230 locations on four continents, and more than 5,500 employees.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, meet with the OSHA area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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    July/August 2019

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