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Pennsylvania Workers Overexposed to Lead and Silver Metal

Earlier this month the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a release detailing citations against Heraeus Materials Technology LLC for exposing workers to dangerous levels of silver and lead. The company's West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania facility was cited for five violations, and proposed penalties total over $45,000.

Heraus Materials Technology is based in Hanau, Germany. The Pennsylvania facility manufactures conductive pastes which contain metals, and are used in the manufacture of circuit boards. This past December, OSHA inspected the facility after the agency was alerted of possible exposure by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. OSHA cited the company for one repeat violation and four serious violations. The repeat violation involved exposing an employee to lead levels above the permissible limit for exposure.

"Lead overexposure is a leading cause of workplace illness that can cause adverse health problems, including brain damage, kidney disease and harm to the reproductive system," explained the director of OSHA's Allentown Area Office. She urged the company to take the steps necessary to properly monitor and reduce exposure levels of employees to prevent industrial accidents and injuries stemming from overexposure.

The other violations included: overexposure to silver, failing to provide workers with head coverings, lack of an up-to-date lead compliance program and inadequate engineering controls to limit exposure. These violations are all categorized as serious, meaning the hazards have a substantial probability of resulting in serious injury or death, and the employer either was aware or should have been aware of the violations.

The company now has 15 business days to respond to the citations. The company may choose to contest the citations, comply with the citations or request a conference with an OSHA official.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA Regional News Release, June 6, 2012.

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