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Bridge Painting, Blasting Cited Again

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

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FALL RIVER, MA—Bridge painters and abrasive blasters on a Massachusetts project were exposed to 100-foot falls and high lead levels where they ate, changed and worked, federal investigators have concluded.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Allied Painting Inc., of Cherry Hill, NJ, for six serious health and safety violations carrying $41,580 in proposed penalties after an October 2014 inspection at the Charles M. Braga Jr. Memorial Bridge.

The company now has three open OSHA inspections from 2014, including two from the Braga Bridge project, and more than $113,000 in proposed penalties.

Braga Bridge
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimaster97commons

Allied Painting has three open OSHA inspection from 2014, including two from the Braga Bridge project, with more than $113,000 in proposed penalties. The company has contested the latest round of violations.

Allied Painting has contested the most recent citations and penalties to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, according to OSHA.

The company declined Monday (April 20) to comment.

State Tip-Off

The latest inspection was launched after OSHA received a referral from the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standard's Lead Program, which reportedly found elevated lead blood levels in Allied Painting employees who were performing abrasive blasting and painting work on the bridge, OSHA said.

According to OSHA records, the company was inspected and cited on the same jobsite in May 2014 after a complaint. That case alleged three serious violations carrying a total of $9,520 in penalties. The case is marked as open.

Allied Painting was inspected by OSHA three times in 2014. The third inspection, launched by a referral in April 2014, resulted in nine serious violations and $62,370 in proposed penalties. The case is marked as open.

MassDOT / Flickr

The twice-cited bridge painting is part of the $200 million, three-year Route 79/Braga Bridge Improvements Project, which is due to be completed in 2017.

The Braga Bridge painting is part of an $85 million Massachusetts Department of Transportation project; it is included in a three-year, $200 million Route 79/Braga Bridge Improvements Project, which should be completed in mid-2017, Wicked Local Fall River reported.

6 Serious Citations

In the latest case, OSHA inspectors reported having found excess lead levels where employees work, change contaminated clothing, and eat.

These surfaces included floors, benches, door knobs, lockers, a microwave in the decontamination trailer, and the bench seat of a company van where workers eat lunch.

The work was performed on a catenary scaffold beneath the bridge, and workers used caged ladders to climb down the scaffold. However, obstructions to access ladders and insufficient heights for temporary railings between ladders and the permanent bridge railing exposed workers to fall hazards of more than 100 feet, OSHA alleged.

Other citations allege failure to:

  • Keep surfaces below the recommended lead levels;
  • Clean areas of lead accumulation by methods that minimize the likelihood of lead becoming airborne;
  • Provide clean change areas for employees exposed to lead;
  • Ensure eating areas are free from lead contamination;
  • Have chain railings and permanent bridge railings at the appropriate height above the walking/working level; and
  • Keep the area around the top and/or bottom of ladders clear.

'Needlessly Compromised'

"The health and safety of these employees were needlessly compromised by both long-term and immediate hazards," said Robert Carbone, OSHA's acting area director for southeastern Massachusetts.

© / temis

Employers are required to provide painters with clean changing and eating areas, to avoid ingesting lead and carrying it home on contaminated clothing.

"Lead can damage workers' nervous systems, kidneys, blood-forming organs and reproductive systems if inhaled or ingested in dangerous quantities."

He added: "Falls are the leading cause of death in construction work. It's imperative that Allied Painting Inc. provides and ensures the effective use of all required safeguards for its employees' health and well-being."

OSHA History

A closed case with no listed citations or fines shows the company was inspected on the Braga Bridge project in November 2013 after OSHA received a complaint.

A planned inspection, also on the Braga Bridge project in November 2013, was closed with no listed citations or penalties.

OSHA's records list a closed Sept. 16, 2013, inspection in Delaware launched by a referral. With no listed citations, it was unclear whether the inspection stemmed from a painter who was injured in a fall from the Delaware Memorial Bridge on Sept. 14, 2013.

Allied Painting was inspected once in 2011. The initial seven violations (six serious and one other) with $25,200 in penalties was reduced to three violations (two serious and one other) and $5,400 in penalties.

In 2009, OSHA said, the company paid $3,200 in penalties for one serious violation regarding lead and one other-than-serious violation for respiatory protection. Allied Painters was also cited for one other-than-serious fixed ladder violation in 2008.

In 2004, an Allied Painting employee fell 15 feet into the Delaware River while working on the New Hope-Lambertville Bridge. The worker was not seriously injured.


Tagged categories: Abrasive blasting; Bridges; Enforcement; Fall protection; Health & Safety; Lead; North America; OSHA; Painters

Comment from Car F., (4/22/2015, 11:13 AM)

In the permanent race to the bottom, companies bid low and they cut corners in safety in order to “remain competitive”. Workers should take their blood samples and sue the companies for future illness due to lead exposure. It appears that this particular company is a repeat offender who shows total disregard for health and safety.

Comment from bryan buckley, (4/22/2015, 3:15 PM)

Most of these companies operate like this with no clean eating areas and making blasters take their lead covered clothes home to wash themselves.Imagine you have a newborn at home and have to bring your lead blasting clothes in you car to your house to wash or to the laundry mat where others wash their clothes, companies used to supply clothes for blasters but stopped and the unions said nothing about it...crazy!

Comment from Mike McCloud, (4/23/2015, 6:36 AM)

I hardly doubt this company is denying the employees a clean eating area. I'll bet the employees wander off and eat in their own truck at lunch. The company must be a certified QP company in order to bid this work. I drive by every week and they look quite organized. I'll look for the wash trailer next time.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (4/23/2015, 8:32 AM)

I've seen organized looking companies, then when I go to use the handwash station... Surprise! It's present, but doesn't actually work. Or they have a CO monitor for the breathing air, but don't actually turn it on.

Comment from Chuck Pease, (4/24/2015, 3:43 PM)

I just recently left a company that didn't even use their CO monitors. Erected scaffolding without a competent person to daily inspect. Hole watchs leaving their post while one of our blasters was inside after falling from a scaffolding with broken ribs for close to 30 minutes before anyone knew he was hurt. Job foreman allowing the crew to push rolling towers 30' high inside sand filled tanks with blaster on the top deck, the list go on. And yes Mike I have blasted on bridges were there was NO oversight or compliance for clean eating areas for lead jobs. Need I continue???

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