OSHA cites Albin Carlson & Co. of Addison, Ill., for exposing workers to lead at Chicago job site; fines total more than $180,000

OSHA has cited Albin Carlson & Co., a road and bridge construction company in Addison, Ill., with eight health, including two willful, violations, for failing to protect workers from lead exposure while performing torch cutting on a steel structure. The employer faces proposed penalties totaling $180,180 as a result of an OSHA investigation conducted in December 2010 at a job site in Chicago.

“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. That is unacceptable,” said Michael Connors, OSHA’s regional director in Chicago. “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 with penalties of $138,600 include failing to provide appropriate interim respiratory protection and ensure workers’ exposure to lead did not exceed permissible daily limits. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Six serious violations with penalties of $41,580 include failing 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 occurs 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.

The investigation was initiated under an OSHA national emphasis program on lead. Albin Carlson and Co. had been inspected by OSHA 13 previous times in the past five years.

This investigation falls under the requirements of OSHA’s Severe Violators Enforcement Program. Initiated in 2010, SVEP is intended to focus on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. For more information on the program, visit http://www.osha.gov/dep/svep-directive.pdf*.

Albin Carlson & Co. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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