PEORIA, Ill. -- Workers at Hagerty Brothers Co. were exposed to dangerous levels of lead and copper dust during brass finishing and grinding work at its Peoria facility, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has found. After an OSHA inspection on June 24, 2014, the company was cited for four willful and 26 serious safety violations for not implementing engineering controls, failing to maintain areas free of lead dust and accumulation, and not monitoring worker exposure. The company has been placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program and faces proposed penalties of $171,600.
'Lead exposure can cause long-term damage to the central nervous, urinary, blood and reproductive systems and is a leading cause of workplace illness,' said Thomas Bielema, OSHA's area director in Peoria. 'Hagerty Brothers failed to protect employees from known dangers and needs to implement basic safety precautions, such as workers wearing protective clothing and using proper ventilation, hygiene and training.'
OSHA found Hagerty Brothers failed to determine if employees were exposed to lead above permissible limits; lacked hygiene and housekeeping practices to prevent lead contamination; and failed to monitor employee exposure through biological sampling.
A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.
Workers also were exposed to copper and lead dust in excess of levels allowed over an eight-hour period. OSHA identified the company's failure to implement engineering controls that would have limited exposure and to train employees about exposure hazards. Additionally, Hagerty Brothers failed to post warning signs in overexposure areas.
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.
To view current citations, see https://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/hagerty_982048_122214.pdf*.
Hagerty Brothers 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.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Peoria office at 309-589-7033.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.