Tulip Corp. is facing nearly $48,000 in fines from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration for allegedly exposing workers to airborne lead and other hazards at its Niagara Falls plant.
The agency said Wednesday that it is proposing to impose $47,700 in fines on Tulip for what it described as nine serious safety and health violations at the plastic container manufacturer’s plant on Highland Avenue that were detailed in an October 2012 inspection.
OSHA said its inspection, which was spurred by a complaint, found that workers were overexposed to airborne concentrations of lead that were 1.7 times the permissible limit during an eight-hour period. The agency also cited Tulip because its employees were not using the appropriate protective work clothing, such as gloves, hats and respirators, when they were exposed to the lead.
“It is the employer’s responsibility to minimize exposure levels, train employees and ensure all safeguards are in place,” said Arthur J. Dube, OSHA’s Buffalo-area director.
The OSHA complaint also said that Tulip failed to keep surfaces as free as possible from accumulations of lead and that employees wearing protective clothing or equipment who were entering the lunchroom were not required to remove surface lead dust by vacuuming it off or by other cleaning methods. The company also was cited for not keeping workroom floors dry and for a prohibited use of an electrical cord.
Tulip reprocesses and recycles shredded battery casings, often containing lead, into usable material. The company, which could not be reached to comment, has 15 business days to respond to the allegations.