Personal Injury

Miami company willfully overexposed its workers to toxic levels of lead

Miami, Florida company E.N. Range Inc. has been slapped with more than $2 million in penalties for willfully exposing its employees to lead and for other violations that seriously threaten the health and safety of company workers.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors found that the company knowingly neglected to protect its employees, who clean gun ranges, from dangerous overexposure to lead. The company also dispensed non-FDA-approved treatments for lead exposure to the employees without the proper medical supervision. OSHA cited E.N. Range with more than 50 violations with penalties totaling $2,099,600.

Lead is a dangerous neurotoxin that can impair the health and lives of people who are exposed to it. Repeated exposure to even small quantities of lead can make a serious impact on one’s health, causing brain damage, paralysis, kidney failure, and death.

“This company was well aware of what it needed to do to protect its workers from a well known hazard. It not only failed to provide that protection, it misled employees — most of whom had limited knowledge of English — into believing that it was providing them with appropriate medical treatment,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “Such a blatant disregard for the health of workers will not be tolerated under this administration.”

OSHA’s citations included 42 willful and serious violations of federal lead standards. Ironically, E.N. Range’s website says that the company is a “fully licensed and insured lead abatement and HAZMAT contractor protecting our customers from the significant liabilities and health risks associated with lead removal and other maintenance activities.”

Federal lead regulations also address the use of medicines with chelating agents, which are administered to reduce blood levels and protect the body against the effects of hazardous substances such as lead. OSHA found that E.N. Range doled out these non-FDA-approved medicines to its employees illegally. Their use is permitted only under medical supervision in a clinical setting.

“This is an egregious situation where the employer deliberately refused to provide the necessary protections to keep workers safe from overexposure to lead,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. “The company even knew its workers suffered from lead poisoning, yet avoided proper medical attention in favor of providing an unapproved and potentially unsafe treatment.”

OSHA’s citations allege that E.N. Range did not use engineering controls to prevent overexposure to lead, perform air sampling to determine the extent of its workers’ exposure, provide showers for workers who had been exposed to lead, or provide blood testing to exposed workers every six months, all of which are required by the lead standard.

The company also violated a respiratory protection standard by failing to provide medical evaluations and fit testing for respirators. OSHA also cited the company for failing to abate a previous violation discovered during an inspection last year. That violation charged the company with neglecting to implement a job rotation schedule to reduce lead exposures.