Military explosives company exposes workers to lead hazards, OSHA reports

Manufacturer faces nearly $143K in penalties

Posted September 30, 2016

When a Wisconsin explosive component manufacturer started a new production line, the company failed to comply with federal safety standards to protect its employees from the dangers of exposure to lead used in the production process, federal investigators say. The company produces components used by the defense industry to build missiles and warheads.

An OSHA inspection found that the company failed to implement a combination of engineering, work practice, and respiratory protection controls. By doing so, the employer exposed about 40 employees to lead. Personal and wipe sampling conducted by OSHA found four employees were overexposed — two above the action level and two over the permissible exposure limit.

On September 23, 2016, OSHA proposed $143,576 in penalties after citing one willful violation, eight serious violations, and one other-than-serious violation.

In addition to overexposing the four workers, the agency's April 2016 investigation found the company’s laboratory failed to:

  • Conduct monitoring to assess employee exposure to lead;
  • Implement an adequate lead compliance program and respiratory protection program; and
  • Provide training on the hazards and symptoms of lead exposure.

Overexposure to lead can lead to brain damage, as well as kidney disease, gastrointestinal issues, and anemia.

The agency also found that the company failed to:

  • Follow respiratory protection requirements, including fit-testing employees, identifying and evaluating respiratory hazards;
  • Conduct preventative maintenance checks on ventilation systems;
  • Require the use of personal protective equipment; and
  • Provide changing rooms and showers for employees exposed to lead hazards to prevent cross-contamination and lead dust leaving the facility.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

1910 OSHA GuideOSHA Rules for General Industry: 1910 and Other Essential Regulations puts OSHA’s workplace safety regulations in a reader-friendly format.


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