Niagara Gazette

March 13, 2013

Falls manufacturer fined by Labor Department

Staff reports
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — A Highland Avenue manufacturing facility has been cited with nine alleged serious safety and health violations, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced on Wednesday.

OSHA found signs workers were exposed to airborne lead and other hazards following an October 2012 complaint. The manufacturer of plastic containers faces proposed fines of $47,700.

“Exposure to lead can damage the blood-forming, nervous, urinary and reproductive systems. Impaired health and disease can result from periods of exposure that can be as short as days or as long as several years,” said Art Dube, OSHA’s area director in Buffalo. “It is the employer’s responsibility to minimize exposure levels, train employees and ensure all safeguards are in place.”

OSHA’s inspection found that workers were overexposed to airborne concentrations of lead. The airborne lead levels measured at the facility were 1.71 times the permissible exposure limit of 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged over an eight-hour period. In addition, appropriate protective work clothing and equipment, including gloves, hats or respirators, were not used when employees were exposed to lead above the permissible exposure limit; all surfaces were not maintained as free as practicable of accumulations of lead; and employees entering lunchroom facilities with protective clothing or equipment were not required to remove surface lead dust by vacuuming or other acceptable cleaning methods.

Other cited hazards included workroom floors not maintained in a dry condition and prohibited use of an electrical cord. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

“One means of eliminating hazards, such as these, is for employers to establish an injury and illness prevention program in which workers and management continually work to identify and eliminate hazardous conditions,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York.

Tulip Corp. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Buffalo office at 551-3053.