Dangerous Dust Levels at IL Facility

Friday, January 16, 2015 @ 03:01 PM gHale

Workers at Hagerty Brothers Co. suffered exposure to dangerous levels of lead and copper dust during brass finishing and grinding work at its Peoria, IL, facility, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

After an OSHA inspection on June 24, the company received citations for four willful and 26 serious safety violations for not implementing engineering controls, failing to maintain areas free of lead dust and accumulation, and not monitoring worker exposure. As a result, the company is now in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program and faces penalties of $171,600.

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“Lead exposure can cause long-term damage to the central nervous, urinary, blood and reproductive systems and is a leading cause of workplace illness,” said Thomas Bielema, OSHA’s area director in Peoria. “Hagerty Brothers failed to protect employees from known dangers and needs to implement basic safety precautions, such as workers wearing protective clothing and using proper ventilation, hygiene and training.”

OSHA found Hagerty Brothers failed to determine if employees suffered exposure to lead above permissible limits; lacked hygiene and housekeeping practices to prevent lead contamination; and failed to monitor employee exposure through biological sampling.

A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Workers suffered exposure to copper and lead dust in excess of levels allowed over an eight-hour period. OSHA identified the company’s failure to implement engineering controls that would have limited exposure and to train employees about exposure hazards. Additionally, Hagerty Brothers failed to post warning signs in overexposure areas.

OSHA inspectors also noted at Hagerty Brothers a lack of machine guarding, electrical safety and safe practices related to forklift operations.

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

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