October 7, 2021: Gopher Resource, a lead battery recycling facility in Tampa, Florida, was on September 30 found guilty of a ‘wilful violation for exposing workers to inhalation hazards’ despite warnings to the company since March 2020 and an inspection of the site in April 2021.
The company failed to make the necessary changes to avoid worker exposure to lead in the air, said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under the US Department of Labor, and has proposed a $319,876 fine.
“The company also failed to provide employees with adequate respirators that could have kept worker exposure to hazardous substances at or below the allowable level,” OSHA said.
“This employer put their bottom line above the safety and wellbeing of their workers,” said OSHA area director Danelle Jindra.
“Every worker has the right to a safe workplace, and they should never have to decide between their own health and earning a living. Continuing to put workers in harm’s way is unacceptable, and OSHA will continue to hold employers like Gopher Resource responsible.”
OSHA also found that Gopher had allowed cadmium, lead and inorganic arsenic exposure to exceed permissible levels; failed to implement adequate controls to prevent exposure; failed to provide an annual update of a written compliance program; allowed workers to share damaged protective clothing that was exposed to lead; did not test fit respirators; used insufficient methods to remove accumulated lead; and failed to identify all hazards on entry permits.