Responding to a report of an elevated blood lead level in a machinist at a Brooklyn brass plumbing fittings manufacturer, investigators found employees at Acme Parts Inc. in Brooklyn, NY, lacked adequate protections against lead exposure, hearing loss and hazardous chemicals, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
“An elevated level of lead in a worker’s bloodstream is a serious health matter, and a sign that employees are not being adequately protected against exposure to this hazardous substance,” said Kay Gee, OSHA’s area director for Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. “Lead can damage the nervous system, kidneys, blood forming organs, and reproductive system if inhaled or ingested in dangerous quantities.”
Specifically, OSHA found the company failed to:
• Train employees about lead hazards and provide them proper protective clothing
• Prevent lead from accumulating on surfaces in the plant
• Prohibit employees from consuming food and drink in lead contaminated areas
• Conduct initial monitoring to determine employees’ lead exposure levels
The plant also lacked effective hearing conservation and chemical hazard communication programs. These violations encompassed:
• Not instituting controls to reduce noise levels
• Not providing employees a choice for hearing protection
• Lack of proper training, supervision and fittings for hearing protectors
• The absence of hazard communication training and chemical safety data sheets
In addition, Acme Parts failed to review, post the annual summary, and certify its 2015 OSHA illness and injury log. These are two critical means of determining possible illness and injury patterns among plant workers.
As a result of these conditions, OSHA cited Acme Parts on April 19 for one willful, six serious and two other than serious violations of workplace health standards. Proposed fines total $105,600.
“An employer is responsible for providing effective safeguards. This was not the case at Acme Parts,” Gee said. “For the health and well-being of its employees, this company must take and maintain corrective actions to eliminate these hazards, prevent their recurrence and maintain a healthful place of employment.”
OSHA is currently conducting another inspection at Acme Parts to determine if there are safety hazards at its 901 Elton St. plant.