Heraeus Materials Technology LLC is facing $45,265 in fines for exposing workers to dangerously high levels of lead and silver metal, among other violations, at the company’s West Conshohocken, PA, facility, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA started an inspection in December after getting an alert by the Pennsylvania Department of Health of a possible exposure.

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“Lead overexposure is a leading cause of workplace illness that can cause adverse health problems, including brain damage, kidney disease and harm to the reproductive system,” said Jean Kulp, director of OSHA’s Allentown Area Office. “It is critically important that Heraeus Materials Technology takes effective steps to monitor, identify and reduce exposure levels to safeguard its employees’ health.”

OSHA cited one repeat violation involving employee exposure to lead above the permissible exposure limit. The citation carries a $27,500 penalty. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously faced the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The company suffered this same violation in April 2010.

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Four serious violations involve overexposure to silver metal, inadequate engineering controls to reduce exposure, the lack of an updated written lead compliance program and failing to provide head coverings to workers. The citations carry $17,765 in penalties. 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.

Based in Hanau, Germany, Heraeus Materials Technology produces conductive pastes at the West Conshohocken facility containing precious and other metals used to make circuit boards.

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