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Bridge Paint Hazards Draw $110k Fine

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

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An Illinois railroad faces $110,500 in proposed penalties after allegedly exposing workers to lead-paint hazards during bridge demolition work in Chicago.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the Illinois Central Railroad Co. for one willful and six serious safety violations after an inspection May 29, in which inspectors saw unprotected workers demolishing a bridge coated with lead-based paint.

The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Canadian National Railway, headquartered in Montreal, Quebec. Illinois Central Railroad provides rail service throughout Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Canada.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently warned that industrial painters and blasters remain at high risk of excessive lead exposure.


"It was unacceptable that Illinois Central Railroad Co. failed to follow safety and health standards that protected workers from the known hazards of lead exposure," said Gary Anderson, OSHA's area director in Calumet City.

"Lead exposure can result in long-term health effects and can be minimized by taking proper precautions."

Illinois Central Railroad Co.
Canadian National Railway

OSHA proposed $110,500 in penalties for Illinois Central Railroad Co. after inspectors found unprotected workers exposed to lead paint during demolition work in Chicago.

A spokesperson for Illinois Central Railroad said Tuesday (Dec. 10) that Canadian National Railway is reviewing the alleged violations and will respond to OSHA, but declined to comment further.

Willful, Serious Violations

The willful violation—OSHA's highest level of infraction—alleges failure to conduct initial monitoring of employees for lead exposure

OSHA says employees were performing torch cutting and rivet-busting operations on a bridge coated with lead-based paint, and the company did not initially determine if lead exposure was at or above the action level or collect personal samples to determine exposure. The violation carries a $70,000 penalty.

The six serious violations, totaling $40,500 in proposed penalties, allege failure to:

  • Provide appropriate respiratory protection for working with lead-based paint ($7,000);
  • Assure appropriate personal protective work clothing and equipment ($7,000);
  • Provide clean change areas for workers with airborne lead exposure above the permissible exposure limit ($7,000);
  • Provide a hand washing station ($5,500);
  • Implement engineering controls (e.g., water suppression, HEPA vacuums) to reduce and maintain lead exposure ($7,000); and
  • Ensure food, beverage and tobacco products were not present or used in the work area ($7,000).

The company has 15 business days from receiving the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA, or contest the findings.

Two OSHA Cases in 2010

In 2010, Illinois Central Railroad was seven serious and three other-than-serious citations. When the case was closed in 2011, the citations were reduced to four serious and three other-than-serious, for floor and wall openings, powered industrial trucks and electrical hazards. The company paid $7,000 in penalties.

Also in 2010, the company paid $7,000 for two serious violations for hazards including fixed ladders and floor and wall openings.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Demolition; Hazards; Health and safety; Lead; OSHA; Protective clothing; Rail; Respiratory Protection Standard

Comment from Billy Russell, (12/11/2013, 3:18 PM)


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