The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has proposed more than $41,000 in fines against a New Jersey-based painting contractor over allegedly exposing workers at a Fall River, Massachusetts work site to both fall and lead hazards. The proposed fines stem from an October 2014 inspection at the Charles M. Braga Jr. Memorial Bridge spanning the Taunton River. The inspection occurred after the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standard’s (“DLS”) noted high levels of lead in the blood stream of many of the painting company’s workers.
The employees tasked with blasting and painting the bridge were purportedly provided with insufficient decontamination procedures and exposed to high levels of lead as a result. An OSHA inspector noted traces of lead on a variety of work surfaces as well as a microwave oven and inside the company vehicle where many workers took their lunch breaks. In addition, an OSHA inspector found that the caged ladders used by workers to access the bridge included access ladder obstructions and temporary railings that were too low. As a result, workers were not provided with adequate fall protections. Due to the height of the bridge, the employees were apparently exposed to fall hazards of at least 10 stories.
Following the OSHA inspection, the painting contractor received $41,580 in proposed fines for six serious workplace health and safety violations. In general, a serious violation is one that an employer knew or should have known about that is likely to cause severe employee injury or death. The painting contractor has contested the proposed penalties with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Falls are currently the leading cause of construction worker deaths in Massachusetts and across the nation. According to OSHA, there were nearly 800 tragic fall injuries and almost 300 work-related fall deaths in the United States in 2013. High levels of lead exposure may damage an employee’s kidneys, nervous system, and other organs.
The DLS’s Lead Program was established in an effort to reduce lead exposure for both workers and other individuals in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The DLS administers and enforces renovation standards and monitors the repair and painting of older homes, child-occupied facilities, and lead removal operations. The DLS also tracks worker lead blood levels through the Occupational Blood Lead Registry and offers educational counseling and assistance to employees who may be exposed to lead at work.
If you or a close family member was hurt or killed in a Massachusetts workplace accident, you should contact an experienced Boston workers’ compensation lawyer to discuss your rights. The skillful attorneys at Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C. are committed to helping you recover the financial benefits you deserve based on the severity of your work-related injury. To speak with a seasoned workers’ compensation lawyer today, call Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C. at 800-367-0871 or contact us online.
Allied Painting Inc. exposes employees to lead and fall hazards at Braga Bridge worksite in Fall River, Massachusetts, OSHA Region 1 News Release dated April 16, 2015