An Illinois construction contractor faces $180,180 in fines and eight federal health citations for exposing workers to lead paint while they were torch-cutting on a steel bridge.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration citations against Albin Carlson & Co. include two willful violations—OSHA’s highest level of infraction—and have placed the company in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which focuses enforcement resources on “recalcitrant employers.”
OSHA has inspected Albin Carlson 13 previous times in the last five years and issued citations on five of those occasions, including one in connection with a fatal accident.
The current case follows an inspection of work on Chicago's Laramie Avenue Bridge in December 2010. OSHA initiated the investigation under its national emphasis program on lead.
Albin Carlson did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment.
Respiratory Protection Cited
"This company was aware that employees were conducting torch cutting on a steel structure coated with lead-based paint and failed to ensure that a respiratory protection plan was in use on the job site,” said Michael Connors, OSHA's regional director in Chicago. “That is unacceptable.”
He added: “Employers are responsible for knowing what hazards exist on their job sites and ensuring that workers are not exposed to risks that could result in injury or death."
The willful violations, carrying penalties of $138,600, allege failure to provide appropriate interim respiratory protection and to ensure that workers' exposure to lead did not exceed permissible daily limits. OSHA said the workers’ exposure was 23 or more times the Permissible Exposure Limit.
Albin Carlson & Co.
|Founded in 1913, Albin Carlson specializes in highway and railroad bridges, foundations, retaining wall projects and related work.|
A willful violation is one committed with” intentional knowing or voluntary disregard” for the law or “plain indifference” to worker safety and health.
In addition, six serious violations with penalties of $41,580 allege failure to:
- Implement a respiratory protection program;
- Implement a compliance program to limit employee exposure to lead;
- Conduct initial monitoring for lead;
- Provide personal work clothing for interim protection from lead exposure; and
- Provide adequate hand-washing and shower facilities.
A serious violation reflects “substantial probability” that death or serious injury could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Albin Carlson has 15 business days to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA or contest the findings.
Founded in 1913, Albin Carlson is a general contractor of highway and railroad bridges, bridge repair, foundations, and retaining wall projects. The company specializes in concrete, excavation, piling, carpentry and demolition work.
Albin Carlson has settled five cases with OSHA since 2006.
The most serious involved a fatal accident on July 5, 2006. Authorities said an Albin Carlson worker was installing pipe in a trench when a combination backhoe/front-end loader operated by an employee of a different company lunged backward and scooped the Albin Carlson worker out of the trench. The bucket then hit a wall, stopped and dropped the worker, who was struck in the chest and killed.
Albin Carlson paid a $2,500 fine (reduced from $8,750) for one serious violation (reduced from four) related to accident prevention in that case.
- In February 2010, the company paid $1,000 (reduced from $3,000) for one other-than-serious violation (reduced from serious) for cadmium dust exposure on a bridge project.
- In December 2009, the company paid a $1,200 fine (reduced from $3,000) for one serious and one other-than-serious violation (reduced from two serious) related to welding and cutting violations on a bridge project.
- In October 2009, the company paid a $700 fine (reduced from $2,000) for one serious material handling violation on a bridge project.
- In July 2009, the company paid a $2,000 fine (reduced from $4,000) for one other-than-serious violation (reduced from serious) related to fall protection on a bridge project.