On Jan. 10, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed $171,628 in penalties to an industrial valve manufacturing company based in Prairie du Sac, Wi for excessive heavy metal exposure.
According to OSHA, the manufacturer exposed employees to lead and copper dust rates higher than the permissible exposure limit (PEL). Following a July 2019 OSHA inspection, the manufacturer was cited for failing to implement adequate engineering and work practice controls to limit lead exposure. The company also failed to train foundry employees on lead and cadmium exposure hazards.
Other violations were given in relation to respiratory protection, and walking plus working surfaces.
Heavy Metal Exposure
Cadmium, lead, and copper are just three of 35 toxic heavy metals regulated by OSHA.
Toxins from these heavy metals, often invisible to the naked eye, can have severe health impacts on workers during extended exposure.
“Chronic exposures to lead, copper and other metal dusts can result in long-term health issues, such as lung and nervous system damage,” said OSHA Madison Area Director Chad Greenwood.
“Employers must provide personal protective equipment to employees working with toxic metals, and take appropriate steps to minimize worker exposure.”
Respirator Fit Testing & On-Site Medical Surveillance Testing
Heavy metal exposure mostly occurs via inhalation — which makes respiratory protection and safety training crucial for protecting workers.
Additionally, OSHA cited the company for allowing workers with two days of facial hair growth to wear tight-fitting respirators. This can break the seal between the facepiece and the face and leave employees exposed.
When fit-tested correctly, according to OSHA’s respiratory protection standard, employees are “not permitted to have facial hair that comes between the sealing surface of the facepiece and the face, or that interferes with valve function.”
In most cases, a strong respiratory protection medical surveillance program is required by OSHA. Worksite Medical makes that program easier with mobile medical testing.
We conduct on-site respirator fit tests, as well as pulmonary function test 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.
Protect your team and your workplace now with Worksite Medical. Not sure what you need? Try our medical testing wizard here.
Give us a call at 1-844-622-8633, or complete the form below to schedule an on-site visit or to get your free quote!