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OSHA: Penn Hills company exposed its workers to lead

| Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 11:39 a.m.

A Penn Hills company removing lead-based paint from the façade of a Downtown building exposed its workers to the lead, a federal agency said on Thursday.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited N.E.J. Abatement Group Inc. for six lead hazard violations, according to an investigation that started in April based on a health department referral.

Kenneth DeHonney, president and owner of the company, said the violations were unintentional.

“It was an unfortunate occurrence, an isolated incident that has since been corrected,” he said.

An Allegheny County Health Department spokesman could not be reached for comment.

The company was removing paint from a four-story building that runs from 418 to 422 Wood St., said Labor Department spokeswoman Leni Fortson.

Christopher Robinson, director of the OSHA Pittsburgh office, said lead exposure can result in a wide range of debilitating medical conditions.

“The most effective way to minimize worker exposure is through engineering controls, best safety practices, training, and the use of personal protective clothing and equipment such as respirators where required,” he said.

The company failed to medically test workers before the job started and monitor them medically during the work, OSHA said. The company also failed to take initial lead samples and allowed lead levels to get above allowed limits, the agency added.

The company also failed to have adequate respirators, warning signs, shower facilities as well as engineering and administrative controls to limit exposure, OSHA said.

OSHA has proposed $16,800 in penalties for the violations.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or bbowling@tribweb.com.

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