The dangers of lead have been known at least since the early days of the Roman Empire. Arsenic, too, has a well-documented history as a poisonous substance. Cadmium is increasingly known as such a substance as well.
And yet these substances continue to pose work injury risks to Pennsylvania metal workers. Earlier this month, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor cited a Pennsylvania metal recycling company for exposing workers to excessive amounts of lead and arsenic, and for not monitoring cadmium exposure properly.
OSHA began an inspection of the recycling facility in Fairless Hills in December 2011 after receiving a referral from the Pennsylvania State Department of Health. The health department had become concerned about high lead levels in employees’ blood.
The inspection found violations that the metal recycling company had exposed workers to levels of lead and arsenic that were over the acceptable exposure limit. The company also failed to put in place proper engineering controls to reduce exposure to such substances.
In addition, the company did not make sure floors were cleaned properly, and did not require employees who were working with lead and arsenic to take showers when their work shifts ended. Nor did the company provide adequate training on the dangers of exposure to arsenic and cadmium, or make a dedicated room available for changing out of contaminated clothing.
There were other violations as well, including failure to create a consistent monitoring program for workers who were exposed to lead, arsenic and cadmium.
OSHA has proposed penalties of $48,600.
Source: “US Department of Labor’s OSHA fines Fairless Hills, PA metal recycling company nearly $50,000 for worker exposure to lead and arsenic,” OSHA Regional News Release, 6-14-12