A Fast Blast Cited for 17 Serious Workplace Health Violations

The Connecticut contractor was cited by OSHA in connection with workers' lead and silica exposures, according to the agency.

Workers in Springfield, Mass., were overexposed to lead and silica and faced other health hazards while performing abrasive blasting during the renovation of an Easthampton mill. This is thanks to their employer's alleged failure to supply basic, legally required safeguards, according to a statement from OSHA. A Fast Blast, a subsidiary of Maher Industries, face a $47,600 proposed fine following an inspection in April from OSHA's Springfield Area Office.

"The hazards of lead and silica are well-known, and overexposure to them can seriously compromise the long-term health and well-being of workers," said Mary Hoye, OSHA's area director for central and western Massachusetts. "The safeguards to protect workers are well-known to employers who oversee this work. It is their responsibility to ensure that proper and effective protections are used at each job site."

OSHA found that employees were exposed to airborne concentrations of lead and silica generated by the abrasive blasting, which was in excess of permissible exposure limits. Feasible engineering or administrative controls to reduce the exposure levels were not in place or in use. The lead exposure hazard was compounded by the lack of a shower facility and protective clothing and eye protection for exposed workers. The company failed to monitor lead exposure levels and allowed employees to consume beverages adjacent to abrasive blasting.

Lead exposure can cause long-term damage to the central nervous, urinary, blood and reproductive systems. Crystalline silica can cause lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in workers.

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