W.S.I. Industrial Services Inc. and Homrich Inc. have been cited for alleged failure to protect workers from lead exposure on a demolition project in Olathe, Kan. The U.S. Department of Labor has proposed penalties of $212,500 against W.S.I. and $169,200 against Homrich.
"On Aug. 23, 2005, OSHA initiated an inspection in response to a complaint about lead exposure at the demolition site of a former battery plant," said Charles E. Adkins, CIH, OSHA regional administrator in Kansas City. The agency issued citations alleging one serious and six willful violations against W.S.I. and one serious and three willful violations against Homrich.
W.S.I.'s serious citation was issued for failure to post warning signs about lead exposures. The willful citations allege workers were exposed to lead in excess of the permissible exposure level; initial lead exposure assessments were not conducted; respirators were not worn in lead-contaminated areas; protective work clothing was not provided; employees were allowed to drink water and smoke in lead-contaminated areas; neither shower facilities nor a clean change area were provided; and biological monitoring was not repeated, as required, two months after initial monitoring.
According to the serious citation for Homrich, the company failed to provide blood lead test results in writing to each employee. The willful violations included the employer's failure to perform an initial lead exposure assessment and provide appropriate respiratory protection and to ensure a clean change area for employees.
According to Adkins, W.S.I., which is headquartered in Romulus, Mich., has no previous OSHA inspection history. The company has 40 employees. Homrich, based in Carleton, Mich., has had 25 previous federal and state OSHA inspections from 1983 to the present. Sixteen of the inspections resulted in citations. Homich has 85 employees.
Serious violations occur when there is probability of death or serious physical harm and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard. Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.