OSHA Recommends Fining Chicago Masonry Company

OSHA officials are recommending $196,000 in fines against a Chicago-based masonry company that allowed its workers to be exposed to excessive amounts of lead during sandblasting operations. The fines follow an inspection of American Masonry Inc.’s sandblasting work at a commercial building that houses art studios.

“When employers such as American Masonry knowingly ignore health requirements, they are unduly placing their workers at risk for illnesses, and that is unacceptable,” said Nick Walters, OSHA’s regional administrator in Chicago. “Lead exposure can cause serious neurological damage, among other illnesses.”

OSHA officials say that the parent company of American Masonry Inc. owns several similar businesses and has at least 137 workplace safety violations.

Lead is a commonly used metal in building construction, batteries, and weights, among other things. The buildup of lead in the body can lead to lead poisoning, a potentially life-threatening condition. The most common source of lead poisoning for construction workers is lead dust from paint in older buildings.

Even small amounts of lead can be harmful for humans. Symptoms of lead poisoning include pain, muscular weakness, headache, stomach aches, irritability, and declines in mental functioning. For minor cases of lead poisoning, removing the source of the exposure is often enough to initiate a natural reduction in blood lead levels. Chemicals and drugs may be used in more severe lead poisoning cases.

Source: OSHA, “US Labor Department’s OSHA cites American Masonry in Chicago for exposing workers to lead dust, proposes $196,000 in fines,” Region 5 News Release: 12-2151-CHI