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Lead, Fall Hazards Beset Museum Project

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

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Two Ohio contractors are facing multiple serious health and safety citations for lead-based paint and fall hazards on a historic restoration project at a museum complex.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration inspected work conditions at the MacDonell House site at the Allen County Museum complex in Lima, OH, after receiving a referral from an unidentified health-care provider who had found high levels of lead in blood samples from employees of both contractors.

MacDonell House MacDonell House
Allen County Museum & Historical Society

The contractors were cited for violations during the removal of exterior lead paint from the MacDonell House, which was built in 1893. A local health-care provider had found high blood levels of lead in some workers.

The employees had been removing lead-based paint from the exterior of the historic home, built in 1893, according to OSHA.

Willful and Serious Violations

OSHA cited Durable Slate Co. (dba Durable Restoration), of Columbus, OH, for one willful and seven serious violations and fined the company $119,000. The company did not respond to a request for comment.

Spectrum Painting, of Bellefontaine, OH, was cited for two willful and eight serious violations and fined $49,600. The company could not be reached for comment.

Violation History

Durable Restoration, a multitrade national restoration company, and Durable Slate are subsidiaries of The Durable Group.

A check of OSHA records shows the company was cited in August 2013 for two serious violations, including one related to fall protection. The other violation was deleted in an informal settlement, and the total fine reduced to $2,000 from $7,000.

In 2011, records show, the company paid a $6,000 fine (reduced from $12,600) to resolve three serious violations, including one related to fall protection.

The company was also cited and fined in 2006 and 2005 for several violations, including one related to fall protection, according to OSHA.

Durable Slate Durable Slate
Durable Restoration

Durable Restoration describes itself as an "award-winning historic restoration contractor." The company posted these photos of its renovation work on the Ohio Statehouse.

OSHA records show no other violations within the past decade for Spectrum Painting.

Lead Dangers

In the current case, Durable Slate/Durable Restoration was cited for one willful violation—OSHA's highest level of infraction—for allegedly failing to conduct initial exposure monitoring to determine if employees were exposed to lead above the permissible level when scraping lead-based paint.

Lead exposure can cause fatigue, nausea and long-term damage to the central nervous system.

"Lead overexposure is a leading cause of serious workplace illness," said Kim Nelson, OSHA's area director in Toledo.

"Compliance with OSHA's standards will protect workers by minimizing their exposure to lead. Companies that specialize in this work must have an effective program to ensure the safety and health of their workers."

A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Other Citations

Durable Slate was also issued seven serious violations, including five related to lead exposure. Those violations allege failure to:

  • Ensure workers wore protective clothing;
  • Train workers on lead hazards;
  • Provide changing areas and adequate hand-washing stations; and
  • Implement a written lead compliance program.
Lead in Renovation
EPA via shawnmccadden.com

"Lead overexposure is a leading cause of serious workplace illness," said an OSHA official.

The company is also accused of failing to develop a respiratory protection program and to provide fall protection for employees working about 13 feet up.

OSHA standards require that an effective form of fall protection be in use when workers perform construction activities 6 feet or more above the next lower level. More information is available at http://www.osha.gov/stopfalls.

A serious violation reflects substantial probability of death or serious injury from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Painter Violations

The two willful violations against Spectrum Painting allege failure to provide respiratory protection and personal protective clothing as interim protection before conducting an initial lead exposure assessment.

The eight serious violations included five related to lead exposure, including alleged failure to:

  • Conduct initial medical surveillance;
  • Develop and implement a written lead compliance program; and
  • Provide changing areas and adequate hand-washing stations.

The company was also cited for failing to develop a written hazard communication program, provide fall protection and improper use of ladders, according to OSHA.

   

Tagged categories: Commercial contractors; Fall protection; Historic Structures; Lead; OSHA; Painting Contractors; Renovation; Residential Construction

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