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PA Bridge-Painting Company Fined for Jobsite Dangers

Federal inspectors have uncovered dozens of dangers to workers – including unsafe equipment and exposure to lead – at bridge-painting sites across Pennsylvania.

As a result, the employer – Carbonsburg-based Panthera Painting – has been placed in a “Severe Violator Enforcement Program” by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Inspectors cited Panthera for 38 alleged violations – including 14 willful and 11 repeat offenses – and fined the company $459,844.

Workers at Panthera job sites in Slatington, Harrisburg and Slatedale were exposed to lead and other workplace safety hazards while performing abrasive blasting and repainting.

According to OSHA:

“The employer’s refusal to correct the hazards, along with its history of failing to correct hazards, demonstrates a clear resistance to worker safety and health and leaves workers vulnerable to potential illnesses and injuries from overexposure to lead and other hazards,” said MaryAnn Garrahan, OSHA regional administrator in Philadelphia. “Employers have a legal responsibility to provide workers with safe and healthful workplaces. Anything less is unacceptable.”

The willful violations, with $365,750 in fines, include failing to properly protect workers from exposure to lead and provide fall protection. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Many of the violations related to a failure by Panthera to protect its workers from dangerous exposure to lead. OSHA cited the company for not posting warning signs in lead work areas, not seeing that workers showered at the end of each work shift, not providing medical evaluations, and not providing blood tests every two months for lead exposure.

Other violations included:

  • Allowing workers to eat food in the area where lead exposure was above the permissible level
  • Not notifying workers in writing of blood lead test results within five days
  • Failing to place guards on electric wiring to prevent accidental electrocution
  • Not making sure that workers wore respirators while blasting with glass media or when exposed to lead
  • Failing to provide personal protective equipment for workers when blasting
  • Not providing a “dead man switch” on the blasting nozzle
  • Providing improper filters for the vacuum used for cleaning lead and cadmium
  • Not properly training workers on the physical and health hazards
  • Failing to indicate when a filter had been changed on a compressor.

The Severe Violator Enforcement Program targets employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.

Panthera has been inspected by OSHA five times in the last five years. Four of these inspections resulted in serious citations.

 

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