Safety and OSHA News

Shooting range fined $135K for lead, noise hazards

A Pennsylvania shooting range is out $135K after OSHA discovered lead and noise hazards. OSHA also placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program

OSHA investigated Higher Ground Tactical in Emmaus, PA, last November after receiving a complaint. The agency hit the business with four willful, eight serious and two-other-than-serious violations, including failure to:

  • use engineering or administrative controls where employees are exposed to excessive noise levels
  • implement a noise monitoring program
  • train employees about noise hazards
  • conduct air monitoring for lead
  • establish a written lead compliance program
  • ensure employees consumed food and beverages in lead-free areas, and
  • ensure employees removed contaminated clothing before leaving the worksite.

The other-than-serious violations were for failure to post a copy of OSHA’s noise standard and post warning signs in areas where lead levels exceeded OSHA’s permissible exposure limits.

While working in the indoor firing range, OSHA said Higher Ground employees were exposed to inorganic lead at an eight-hour time-weighted average of 0.69 milligrams per cubic meter of air. That’s 13.8 times the OSHA permissible exposure limit.

The biggest source of airborne lead at a shooting range is caused by the hot flames of burning gunpowder acting on the exposed lead base of a projectile, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Workers were also exposed to noise at an eight-hour time-weighted average of 98.5 dBA, according to the OSHA citation. OSHA’s permissible exposure limit for noise is 90 dBA.

Jean Kulp, OSHA’s area director in Allentown, PA, said in a press release:

“Indoor shooting range employers are well aware that noise and lead are common hazards in their industry. Higher Ground Tactical failed to take seriously its responsibility to ensure a safe and healthful workplace by failing to protect workers from hazardous overexposure to noise and lead.”

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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