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OSHA Fines OH Bridge Painter $25K

Monday, April 17, 2017

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Federal regulators have settled with an Ohio-based bridge-painting contractor over alleged violations uncovered during blasting operations last fall, cutting an original proposed fine of nearly $50,000 almost in half.

Anthony Wayne Bridge
Smithr1981, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

OSHA issued a number of citations to bridge-painting contractor UCL Inc., based on blasting work done on the Anthony Wayne Bridge (pictured), in Toledo, Ohio.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration originally issued nine “serious” violations to UCL Inc., headquartered in Cincinnati, based on violations it says inspectors uncovered during the blasting and repainting of the Anthony Wayne Bridge, in Toledo. According to the citations, the issues were observed on October 19 and November 9, 2016.

Exposure to Lead, Particulates

According to OSHA, employees on the bridge site were exposed to particulates, including zinc oxide and iron oxide, at rates higher than the permissible exposure limit, without engineering or administrative controls implemented to minimize exposure. In multiple instances, the agency says workers on the abrasive blasting site were exposed to iron oxide levels more than nine times the PEL.

Workers were also exposed to lead at levels sometimes approaching 300 percent of the PEL, according to the citations.

Other citations issued indicate that the contractor did not ensure that employees showered after shifts on the site, though showers were provided, and that the company did not ensure that eating areas were free of lead contamination. Violations were also issued in relation to fall protection requirements, scaffolding and planking, and failure to provide medical evaluations of workers required to wear respirators.

Fines Reduced

As originally proposed on March 28, the company’s fines stood at $48,167. After an informal conference on April 5, the total was reduced to $25,541, and the number of overall violations was reduced from nine to five. According to an OSHA spokesperson, “the majority of the citations have been abated,” and the company has until April 19 to pay the reduced fines.

Abatement of the citations generally includes training workers and implementing changes to procedures on current jobsites to ensure the cited violations don’t occur again.

A UCL representative was not immediately available for comment Thursday afternoon (April 13).

Past Violations

According to OSHA’s enforcement database, UCL Inc. has been issued 45 other violations in the past decade, though all came prior to 2013. In August 2009, a worker on a scaffold fell to his death at a UCL blasting and painting jobsite in Middletown, Ohio. That incident resulted in $15,000 in OSHA fines for the contractor.

UCL was contracted by the Ohio Department of Transportation to blast and recoat the Anthony Wayne Bridge, a 3,125-foot-long suspension bridge across the Maumee River in Toledo. The bridge had undergone a nearly three-year renovation between 2012 and 2015.

   

Tagged categories: Abrasive blasting; Blasting; Bridges; Citations; Fall protection; Lead; Lead paint abatement; OSHA; Permissible exposure limits; Surface preparation; Violations

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