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August 9, 1996

Vancouver fishing tackle manufacturer temporarily closed,
fined for worker safety violations

TUMWATER - The Department of Labor & Industries, which temporarily shut down a Vancouver fishing tackle manufacturer for willfully violating worker safety and health rules relating to lead exposure, has fined the company $24,000 - the company's second-such citation in three years.

L&I ordered the closure of Northwest Tackle, 13511 N.E. Kerr Road, Unit 13, in mid June after L&I inspectors responding to a complaint discovered numerous violations of regulations designed to protect workers from lead exposure.

Overexposure to lead is a common health hazard that can result in damage to the brain, nerves, kidneys, blood cells and reproductive organs. Lead enters the body either by being breathed or ingested as dust, mist or fumes in the air. Lead dust can be swallowed if it gets on hands, clothes or beards, or gets in food, drinks or cigarettes.

The company, which manufactures lead sinkers and firearms shot, was closed for five weeks while the site was cleaned up, employees trained and procedures implemented to protect workers from lead exposure.

L&I has cited and fined the company $24,000 for 12 willful violations of the health standard designed to protect workers from the harmful effects of lead exposure. The company was previously cited and fined $5,400 in 1993 for lead-related worker protection violations.

The company appealed the 1993 citation, and it was settled by agreement. Under terms of the agreement, the violations against the company were upheld but the penalties were reduced to $1,200 in exchange for implementation of a 12-point plan to protect workers from the health hazards posed by lead exposure.

When L&I inspectors responded to the employee complaint in June, the employer admitted that the company had not complied with agreement.

The most recent citation, issued July 30, alleges 12 willful violations of the lead standard. (Willful violations are cited when the employer committed an intentional and knowing violation, or even though not consciously violating the standard, the employer was aware that a hazardous condition existed and made no reasonable effort to eliminate the condition.) Specifically, the employer:

  • Did not conduct air monitoring to determine employee exposure to lead.
  • Did not ensure that all surfaces were kept as lead-free as possible.
  • Allowed employees to sweep rather than vacuum the floor.
  • Did not inform employees relating to the health hazard of lead poisoning.
  • Did not furnish employees with a copy of the health standard relating to lead exposure.
  • Allowed employees to routinely go into the lunch/break room without cleaning themselves off. High levels of lead were found in the lunch/break room, bathroom, desks, refrigerator and microwave oven.
  • Did not provide medical surveillance for all employees who were or may have been exposed to lead.
  • Did not make blood sampling and analysis available to determine lead and zinc protoporphyrin levels.
  • Did not make medical examinations and consultations available to employees who tested positive for threshold levels of lead in the blood.
  • Did not assess the hazards of lead exposure in the workplace and provide employees with information about the hazards of lead exposure.
  • Did not create an accident prevention plan that addressed the hazard of lead exposure.
  • Did not test ventilation used to control lead exposure to ensure that the ventilation was properly removing lead fumes away from employees.
In addition, the employer was cited a general violation for failing to develop a written hazard communication program for the workplace, which at least described how labels and other warnings for hazardous chemicals would be used to protect workers. A second general violation was cited for failing to have a first aid kit as required. A third general violation was cited for failing to ensure that electrical breakers were guarded properly. The general violations did not carry monetary penalties. The employer has 15 working days from receipt of the citation to appeal.


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