Safety and OSHA News

Company settles lead exposure case with 29 violations for $700K

A Wisconsin company will pay a $700,000 fine and take additional steps after OSHA said it exposed 14 workers to dangerous lead levels. 

Fraser Shipyards of Superior had been fined $1.395 million after OSHA found the workers had lead levels up to 20 times the allowed exposure limit. The settlement is for about half that amount, according to twincities.com.

OSHA had used its “willful egregious” violation policy to issue a $70,000 violation for each of the 14 employees allegedly exposed to lead.

OSHA said the company had failed to:

  • conduct monitoring to assess employee exposure to lead
  • implement a lead compliance program or a respiratory protection program for lead
  • provide training on lead and asbestos hazards
  • train workers on arsenic, cadmium and hexavalent chromium hazards
  • protect workers from cumulative overexposures to heavy metal and iron oxide, and
  • provide fall protection.

The employees were involved in repowering the freighter Herbert C. Jackson.

After receiving the violations and fines, Fraser requested a settlement conference with OSHA. As part of the settlement with OSHA, Fraser doesn’t admit fault or liability. It also agrees to:

  • establish a safety management plan
  • work directly with OSHA for three years in conjunction with the workers’ union, the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, and
  • undergo two independent health and safety audits over the next two years.

Fraser was placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program which requires follow-up inspections.

OSHA chief David Michaels had said this was a case of putting deadlines before employee safety. He said Fraser’s contract schedule for work on the ship couldn’t be met without endangering workers.

Lead paint on the ship temporarily  stopped work on the Jackson.

One welder on the project has sued Fraser for $75,000 for alleged toxic exposure to lead. A trial in that case is scheduled for February 2018.

Reports say 20 workers on the project have pursued workers’ comp claims.

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