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Region 5 News Release: 09-1351-CHI
Nov. 12, 2009
Contact: Brad Mitchell or Scott Allen
Phone: 312-353-6976

US Labor Department's OSHA levies $321,000 in fines against bridge and tower painter UCL Inc. in Cincinnati for exposing workers to lead

CINCINNATI -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited bridge and water tower painter UCL Inc. in Cincinnati with alleged willful, egregious and serious violations of federal workplace safety and health standards for exposing workers to lead. Proposed fines total $321,000.

OSHA began its inspection in May where UCL was abrasive blasting paint from two bridge overpasses on I-75 near Middletown, Ohio. The inspection revealed nine alleged willful and two serious violations.

Hazards identified as willful allege a variety of violations of the federal lead in construction standard, including a lack of appropriate respirators and protective clothing, failing to maintain eating areas free of lead contamination and failing to remove lead dust from equipment before workers entered designated eating areas. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

Four of the willful violations, relating to the employer's failure to provide clean protective clothing to workers on a daily basis, are also classified as egregious. By designating violations as egregious, OSHA can assess penalties for each time the violation occurs, rather than proposing a single penalty for all violations of a specific agency regulation.

The two serious violations address an inadequate lead compliance program and failing to provide adequate hand washing facilities for employees. A serious citation is issued 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.

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