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IL Mason Fined $196K for Lead Hazards

Monday, November 19, 2012

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A Chicago-based masonry repair contractor with a history of OSHA violations faces $196,000 in proposed penalties for exposing workers to excessive amounts of lead at a jobsite in the city.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Waclaw Cilulko, d/b/a American Masonry Inc., for seven alleged “willful” health violations of OSHA’s lead rules.

Downtown Chicago
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Cilulko operates several Chicago-area masonry companies that have been subject to 39 OSHA inspections since 1978, resulting in 137 cited violations, OSHA says.

Willful violations are those committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health, according to the agency.

D+D News' attempts to reach the company for comment were unsuccessful.

Lead Exposures

In May, OSHA inspectors found Cilulko's workers without proper protective gear performing abrasive blasting of walls and columns coated with lead-based paint at a commercial building site in Chicago. The building houses several art studios.

OSHA said American Masonry’s violations, carrying fines of $28,000 each, involve the failure to

  • Implement a written lead compliance program;
  • Provide personal protective equipment;
  • Provide clean changing rooms or separate storage facilities for protective work clothing to prevent cross-contamination with street clothes; and
  • Vacuum and remove lead dust from the work site.

The company was also cited for failing to implement a medical surveillance program (including initial monitoring and biological monitoring such as blood sampling) for all employees exposed to lead and a respirator-protection program that includes fit testing and training, OSHA said.

“When employers such as American Masonry knowingly ignore health requirements, they are unduly placing their workers at risk for illnesses, and that is unacceptable,” said Nick Walters, OSHA’s regional administrator in Chicago. “Lead exposure can cause serious neurological damage, among other illnesses.”

Citation-Riddled Past

American Masonry performs masonry repair and stone setting, according to OSHA.

The company’s owner, Cilulko, operates several similar companies in the Chicago area that have been subject to 39 OSHA inspections since 1978, resulting in 137 cited violations, the agency reported.

In 2010, for example, the company settled citations involving four serious violations for $2,310. The violations in that case involved the failure to abide by OSHA’s fall protection rules.

OSHA said the companies operate under the following names:

  • American Masonry Concepts Inc.;
  • American Masonry & Supply Inc.;
  • America’s Best Masonry Inc.;
  • All American Masonry Inc.; and
  • American Masonry & Stucco Inc.

American Masonry has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with Walters, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


Tagged categories: Concrete repair; Lead; Maintenance coating work; Masonry coatings; OSHA; Renovation; Sanding and hand tool cleaning

Comment from Dennis Guy, (11/19/2012, 8:21 AM)

Yeah, Let's expand the government some more... Shall we?

Comment from Kay Melcher, (11/19/2012, 9:43 AM)

Yes, we should. Exposure to lead causes serious and permanent health damage. Why should these workers suffer permanent harm for the rest of their lives just so that this contractor can take home more profit?

Comment from Paul Braun, (11/20/2012, 9:12 AM)

Dennis: I don't understand your opposition to OSHA's four findings, and don't understand the comment about "expanding government". Try as I might, I can't see, on balance, how the rules place an unfair burden on society. Lead is a proven problem to health (I hope we can agree on that). Do members of society (the residents of the complex, the workers, and the residents in the surrounding area) have a right to be protected during remediation? Does Waclaw Cilulko have any obligation to operate within the law to protect those involved? Should we have the expectation that Cilulko and the 16 companies snagged by the EPA (as reported in D&D in 11/16) or the paint company charged by the FTC with greenwashing, will self-regulate? Given the history of environmental destruction we have experienced, should we EVER have that expectation, or do we need regulations (and effective governmental agencies) in place to assure the rights of citizens?

Comment from Dennis Guy, (11/21/2012, 10:27 AM)

Hi Paul, I think your last sentence speaks to my point, (although we may disagree on what constitutes an effective government agency.) What I was thinking when I expressed my opinion was the excessive fines that were imposed on a private company. 196K is a lot of money! How many workers wages can be paid for that kind of cash? OR how many workers will now lose their jobs because of this error in judgement? EPA, OSHA have these agencies ever produced anything? Created jobs? Made a profit? Hence, the ‘expansion of government’ comment. Have a nice day!

Comment from M. Halliwell, (11/21/2012, 10:48 AM)

Dennis, I do understand the point you are trying to make...but shy of simply pulling this guy's licence (and barring him from simply taking out a new one and continuing on) how else are are we (industry and government) supposed to give him a clue? He hasn't clued in since 1978...and the price to remediate the lead contamination he has likely caused (let's not get into the costs of health effects to the public or his workers) would likely cost far, far more than $196k. Do OHSA and EPA produce anything? No...that's not why they were created. Do they have worth in reducing fatalities, injuries and environmental damage? I would certainly think so. Are they good value for the money invested....well, that we can debate for years to come.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (12/6/2012, 4:03 PM)

Yep, this company has apparently been flouting compliance and endangering folks since 1978 - it's past time they had some real fines.

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