Company fined for improper welding protection

June 14, 2005

The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Lee Mechanical Contractors Inc., Park Hills, Mo., for allegedly failing to ensure appropriate protective programs were in place for employees welding in a lead-contaminated environment.

OSHA inspectors found approximately 50 temporary employees without a proper respiratory protection program welding in an environment known to produce significant air lead exposure levels. The company hired the workers for a construction project at the Doe Run lead smelter in Herculaneum, Mo.

OSHA cited the company for two alleged willful and seven alleged serious violations. The willful citations charge that the firm did not fit-test employees who wore respirators and failed to provide follow-up blood lead level testing or written results of blood lead level tests to lead-exposed employees.

The serious citations alleged the firm's written respirator program was not in compliance with OSHA regulations and personal air monitoring was not conducted. Other deficiencies included inappropriate respirators; blood lead testing not provided every two months; and failure to train employees on proper respirator selection and fit-testing and to inform them of their rights to medical and exposure records.