Company Faces $299K Fine for Toxic Metal Exposure  - Worksite Medical

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During a planned inspection at a jobsite, OSHA found that an Illinois painting and wall covering contractor allowed unsafe exposure to methylene chloride (paint thinner / stripper), and also violated lead safety and cadmium standards.

The administration proposed $299,825 in total fines, and issued the company citations for six serious and 11 willful violations. In 2014, the same company was cited a similar amount for repeatedly exposing employees to dangerous lead levels.

The three substances that workers were exposed to — methylene chloride (NMP), lead, and cadmium — can be seriously harmful. 

 

Methylene Chloride 

 

Methylene chloride was banned from consumer products by the EPA last March — although, it was not banned from occupational use.

It’s extremely dangerous, as it replaces and blocks oxygen in the blood. If inhaled, it can cause carbon monoxide poisoning and, over the long term, it increases the risk of cancer. 

The EPA has estimated that as many as 32,000 workers use methylene chloride on the job. Even though it has not been banned from occupational use, employers would be safest to replace products containing the deadly chemical. 

 

Lead Safety 

 

Lead exposure mostly occurs in industries such as construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation, and recreation.

Overexposure, via ingestion and inhalation, leads to severe health issues, such as lower blood levels, which result in decreased cognitive function.

The OSHA permissible exposure limit is 50 micrograms of lead per cubic meter of air, as averaged over an 8-hour period. Employers are required to use engineering controls and work practices, where feasible, to reduce worker exposure.

 

Cadmium 

 

Cadmium is a soft, malleable bluish-white metal found in zinc ores.

It is most likely to be present on worksites where metal is smelted or refined; and in the manufacturing of batteries, plastics, coatings, and solar panels. More than 300,000 workers are at risk of exposure in industries such as manufacturing and construction.

Inhalation or ingestion of this highly toxic metal can cause cancer and damage lungs, kidneys, and bones. Cadmium poisoning may also present itself in flu-like symptoms.

Make sure your workplace is in compliance with our cadmium checklist

Keep your workers safe and avoid hefty fines with medical surveillance help from Worksite Medical. 

The violations under contest can be found here and here. The company is currently contesting the violations.

Have you been fined by OSHA? Here’s what you need to do next.

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In most cases, OSHA requires medical surveillance testing, and at no cost to employees.

Worksite Medical makes that program easier with mobile medical testing.

We conduct on-site respirator fit tests, as well as audiometric exams, pulmonary function tests and heavy metal lab work, right on your job site. We also keep accurate, easy-to-access medical records for your convenience. You’ll keep your employees at work, and stay ahead of OSHA inspections.

With Worksite Medical, a mobile medical testing unit — we can bring all the resources of a lab to you. Our certified lab technicians can perform both qualitative and quantitative respirator tests to ensure a perfect fit.

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