The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed $209,500 in fines against Viasant LLC, Arlington Heights, Ill., for alleged willful and serious violations of workplace safety and health standards following an investigation into possible lead exposure to workers at the site of a former battery plant in Kankakee, Ill.

OSHA opened an inspection in February 2006 following receipt of information that Viasant employees were experiencing elevated levels of lead in their blood. The inspection revealed violations of virtually every provision of OSHA's lead standard, according to OSHA area director Gary Anderson of Calumet City, Ill.

"Failing to comply with the lead standard not only puts workers at risk, but their families as well," said Anderson. "The health effects of overexposure to lead can be devastating. When employers shirk their responsibility to keep the workplace clean of these dangerous substances, the results can be tragic for workers and their families."

The investigation resulted in citations for seven willful and seven serious violations of federal workplace safety and health regulations, including the failure to comply with OSHA's respirator, cadmium and lead standards. OSHA is alleging that Viasant failed to provide medical protection benefits and training for workers, failed to monitor for lead and cadmium, did not provide employees with respirator fit tests, failed to provide clean changing rooms, a clean lunch room or showers for employees exposed in excess of permissible exposure limits for lead, among other violations.