Workers Exposed to Lead at Chicago Work Site, Firm Fined $180,000

"This company was aware that employees were conducting torch cutting on a steel structure coated with lead-based paint and failed to ensure that a respiratory protection plan was in use on the job site," said Michael Connors, OSHA's regional director in Chicago.

OSHA has cited Albin Carlson & Co., a road and bridge construction company in Addison, Ill., with eight health, including two willful, violations, for failing to protect workers from lead exposure while performing torch cutting on a steel structure. The employer faces proposed penalties totaling $180,180 as a result of an OSHA investigation conducted in December 2010 at a job site in Chicago.

"This company was aware that employees were conducting torch cutting on a steel structure coated with lead-based paint and failed to ensure that a respiratory protection plan was in use on the job site. That is unacceptable," said Michael Connors, OSHA's regional director in Chicago. "Employers are responsible for knowing what hazards exist on their job sites and ensuring that workers are not exposed to risks that could result in injury or death."

The willful violations with penalties of $138,600 include failing to provide appropriate interim respiratory protection and ensure workers' exposure to lead did not exceed permissible daily limits.

Six serious violations with penalties of $41,580 include failing to implement a respiratory protection program; implement a compliance program to limit employee exposure to lead; conduct initial monitoring for lead; provide personal work clothing for interim protection from lead exposure; and provide adequate hand-washing and shower facilities.

The investigation was initiated under an OSHA national emphasis program on lead. Albin Carlson and Co. had been inspected by OSHA 13 previous times in the past five years.

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