Company Cited for $129,000 for Exposing Workers to Lead Hazards

Friday, March 25, 2011
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued citations against Panthera Painting Co. Inc. for exposing workers to dangerously high levels of lead, among other violations, while repainting and performing lead abatement at the George Wade Bridge in Harrisburg. Proposed penalties total $129,900.

OSHA began inspecting the site in September 2010 after being alerted to the hazards during another inspection involving the project's general contractor.

"Panthera Painting's failure to implement the proper safeguards left employees exposed to lead levels above the permissible limit," said Kevin Kilp, director of OSHA's area office in Harrisburg. "Lead overexposure is a leading cause of workplace illness that can lead to serious adverse health problems."

OSHA cited Panthera for one willful violation, with a penalty of $42,000, for failing to monitor lead levels on a quarterly basis. A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the law or plan indifference to employee safety and health.

Twenty-nine serious violations, with a penalty of $87,300, include exposing workers to lead levels in excess of the permissible limit, electrical hazards, deficiencies in the company's lead protection program, failing to properly provide medical evaluations for employees prior to respirator fit testing, failing to provide initial respirator fit tests, failing to ensure employees were using well-fitting respirators, failing to provide ring buoys for emergencies, failing to secure pneumatic tools to hoses, failing to guard pulleys and failing to provide fall protection to employees exposed to fall hazards as high as 60 feet. A serious citation is issued 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.

The company also was cited for five other-than-serious violations, with a penalty of $600, for failing to properly record injuries and illnesses and to periodically inspect fire extinguishers. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

OSHA's lead standards require employers to protect their workers from lead exposure, which can cause many serious health issues including brain damage, paralysis and kidney disease, as well as death. 
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