Employees have a right to expect that their employers will provide a safe and healthful work environment. Unfortunately, employers do not always live up to those expectations. In those cases, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration must step in to ensure workers are protected from hazardous situations.
OSHA recently cited a Heraeus Materials Technology LLC facility located in West Conshohocken for failing to abide by workplace safety standards, specifically in terms of lead overexposure. This particular factory manufactures conductive pastes that contain metals, which are then used to create circuit boards.
Heraeus was cited with one repeat violation of exposing employees to lead above the allowable exposure threshold. Repeat violations are issued when a company has been cited for the same problem within the last five years. In this case, Heraeus was cited for the same issue in April 2010.
The director of Allentown's OSHA office noted, "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."
The Pennsylvania facility was also cited with four serious violations, including employee overexposure to silver and insufficient engineering controls for limiting exposure. According to OSHA, the best way to safeguard employees from lead overexposure is to implement engineering controls, provide training, employ good work practices and use protective clothing and equipment.
The potential penalties for Heraeus total over $45,000. Now that the citations have been issued, Heraeus has 15 business days to respond. The company can choose to comply with the requirements, ask for an informal conference or challenge the citations and penalties.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, "US Labor Department's OSHA Cites Heraeus Materials Technology for Overexposing Workers to Lead, Metal at West Conshohocken, Pa., Facility," June 6, 2012.