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Dangerous lead levels spell OSHA trouble for manufacturer

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A New York plumbing and fixtures manufacturer is facing $105,600 in proposed fines from federal safety and health regulators for exposing workers to lead, noise and chemical hazards.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Brooklyn, New York-based Acme Parts Inc. after responding to a report of an elevated blood lead level in a machinist at its facility and finding that employees lacked adequate protections against lead exposure, hearing loss and hazardous chemicals, according to an agency news release issued on Thursday.

OSHA found that Acme failed to train employees about lead hazards and provide them proper protective clothing, prevent lead from accumulating on surfaces in the plant, prohibit employees from consuming food and drink in lead contaminated areas and conduct initial monitoring to determine employees' lead exposure levels, according to the release.

The plant also lacked effective hearing conservation and chemical hazard communication programs, including not instituting controls to reduce noise levels or providing employees a choice for hearing protection, a lack of proper training, supervision and fittings for hearing protectors and the absence of hazard communication training and chemical safety data sheets, according to OSHA.

The agency also found that the manufacturer failed to review, post and certify its required 2015 injury and illness logs, according to the news release. OSHA said it is currently conducting another safety inspection of the facility.

“An elevated level of lead in a worker's bloodstream is a serious health matter and a sign that employees are not being adequately protected against exposure to this hazardous substance,” Kay Gee, OSHA's area director for Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, said in a statement. “Lead can damage the nervous system, kidneys, blood forming organs, and reproductive system if inhaled or ingested in dangerous quantities.”

A company spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.