Safety and OSHA News

Pigeon droppings make workers sick; court upholds OSHA fine

An administrative law judge with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission has upheld fines against an Ohio company. An inspection revealed several employees had symptoms of a potentially fatal respiratory disease after sweeping up pigeon droppings.

OSHA opened an investigation against ALL Erection & Crane Rental Corp. in June 2009 after a worker was struck in the head by debris during the cleanup of a 600,000-square-foot factory building in Cleveland that was owned by the company.

ALL Erection hired subcontractor Labor Ready to remove debris, including pigeon waste, from the building.

The inspection revealed several workers had symptoms of histoplasmosis as a result of inhaling dust created by sweeping and shoveling the bird waste.

ALL Erection contested the citations on the grounds that the workers were employed by Labor Ready. The judge rejected the argument because workers were being supervised by ALL Erection and the company was controlling the manner of the work being accomplished.

The judge upheld five serious citations against the company for failure to provide:

  • guarding for a fifth floor elevator shaft
  • personal protective equipment
  • compliant respirators
  • medical personnel for advice and consultation, and
  • training for employees on hazardous chemicals in the workplace.

The judge also upheld a less-than-serious citation for failing to determine the presence, quantity and location of asbestos-containing material. A serious citation for failing to provide an assessment for lead was dismissed.

ALL Erection was assessed $10,850.

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