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Pennsylvania workers exposed to high levels of lead

In most instances, employees who have been injured on-the-job are entitled to workers' compensation. It is important to notify a supervisor or employer if an injury occurs in the workplace. This is helpful, especially since injuries can become worse over time.

Some injuries are fairly obvious, such as a broken bone or crush injury. But not all work-related injuries manifest themselves immediately. For example, occupational illnesses that result from exposure to hazardous materials can develop over a period of time, unbeknownst to the employee. Just recently a Pennsylvania paint company was cited by OSHA for exposing its employees to lead hazards.

The company is facing fines of over $125,000 for the citations. OSHA established federal safety guidelines for companies that work with lead in order to protect employees from high levels of exposure.

The inspection began in the fall of last year, when OSHA discovered that hazards existed through a different inspection. OSHA found that the company exposed employees to lead levels that were higher than what was permitted. A total of 35 citations were issued for violations that included:

  • Failing to monitor levels of lead each quarter
  • Exposing employees to excess levels of lead
  • Exposing employees to electrical hazards
  • Failing to provide employees with respirators
  • Failing to properly record work-place injuries

Lead exposure can create a number of health problems for workers who are exposed to dangerous levels of the metal. It can lead to issues such as brain damage and kidney disease, and in some cases can be fatal.

Employees who have been exposed to high levels of lead may not initially realize the health problems that can arise. But with any injury, workers face costs associated with medical treatment and lost wages during the recovery period. Workers' compensation can help an employee with the financial challenges that often come with a work-related injury.

Source: OSHA Regional News Release, "US Labor Department's OSHA fines Canonsburg, Pa., company nearly $130,000 for exposing workers to lead hazards, other violations at Harrisburg, Pa., worksite," 22 March 2011

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