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Illinois Central Railroad faces fines of $110,500 after OSHA inspection finds worker exposure to lead

(Source: U.S. Department of Labor press release, December 3, 2013)

HOMEWOOD, Ill. — Illinois Central Railroad Co. has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for one willful and six serious safety violations that carry proposed penalties of $110,500. OSHA began its inspection May 29 after it observed workers without the necessary safety and health protection while conducting demolition operations on a bridge that was coated with lead-based paint. The bridge spanned South Lock Street near Archer Avenue in Chicago.

"It was unacceptable that Illinois Central Railroad Co. failed to follow safety and health standards that protected workers from the known hazards of lead exposure," said Gary Anderson, OSHA's area director in Calumet City. "Lead exposure can result in long-term health effects and can be minimized by taking proper precautions."

Illinois Central Railroad Co. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Canadian National Railway, headquartered in Montreal. Illinois Central Railroad provides rail service throughout Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Canada.

The one willful violation was cited for failing to conduct initial monitoring of employees for lead exposure. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Additionally, six serious violations were cited for failing to provide appropriate respiratory protection and protective clothing; not providing changing areas and storage for street clothes to prevent lead contamination and the transfer of lead from the job site to home; lack of hand-washing stations; and allowing consumption of food and drink in work areas where lead may be present. The company was also cited for failing to utilize engineering controls, including water misting, long-handled torches and ventilation systems to reduce employees' exposure to lead.

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

See current citations here (PDF).

Illinois Central Railroad 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.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Calumet City Area Office at 708-891-3800. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

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