OSHA: Company exposed workers to lead at Blue Island bridge project

(CHICAGO) A Chicago-based company faces more than $287,000 in fines for allegedly failing to protect workers from lead exposure at a bridge project in south suburban Blue Island.

Workers for Era Valdivia Contractors, Inc., were exposed to the lead hazards while sandblasting the steel structure of the Francisco Avenue Bridge in Blue Island on July 25, 2014, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration claims.

Without proper protections, employees can inadvertently bring the toxic metal into their homes on their clothes, shoes hands and hair, OSHA said in a release. This so-called “take-home lead” is particularly hazardous to pregnant women and young children.

Era Valdivia Contractors was issued four willful violations for failing to provide personal protective clothing, clean changing areas and hygiene facilities, such as showers and hand-washing facilities, to prevent lead from traveling home, OSHA said.

It was also issued a serious violation for failing to provide written notice to an employee who was overexposed to lead, OSHA said.

The company has been cited 13 times before for violating lead construction standards, OSHA said. The citations carry proposed penalties of $287,000.

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