A Cincinnati, OH, bridge painting contractor is contesting citations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and proposed fines of $321,000 for allegedly violating OSHA standards by exposing workers to lead debris, according to the agency. OSHA issued the citations and proposed penalties in November 2009.
Any company fined by OSHA has 15 business days from receipt of a citation to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC).
OSHA announced its findings against UCL Inc. based on an inspection the agency had begun in May when the firm was abrasive blasting lead-bearing paint from two overpass bridges on I-75 near Middletown, OH. The inspection revealed nine alleged willful and two serious violations.
Hazards identified as willful allege a variety of violations of the federal lead in construction standard, including a lack of appropriate respirators and protective clothing, failure to maintain eating areas free of lead contamination, and failure to remove lead dust from equipment before workers entered designated eating areas. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.
Four of the willful violations, relating to the employer's failure to provide clean protective clothing to workers on a daily basis, are also classified as egregious. By designating violations as egregious, OSHA can assess penalties for each time the violation occurs, rather than proposing a single penalty for all violations of a specific agency regulation.
The two serious violations address an inadequate lead compliance program and failure to provide adequate hand washing facilities for employees. 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.
For more information about OSHA standards and enforcement: http://www.osha.gov.