OSHA released a statement Wednesday saying workers were exposed to lead, cadmium and arsenic while performing demolition and sandblasting work on Chicago's 90-year old Old Post Office building last summer.
OSHA inspected the post office site in August 2017, after receiving referrals from the Chicago and Illinois Departments of Public Health. Both public health agencies reported an elevated blood lead level for an employee performing sandblasting work.
OSHA issued 31 serious safety citations to Elgin-based American Demolition, Valor Technologies of Bolingbrook, and Tecnica Environmental Services of Lemont, Illinois.
All three companies were found to have violated OSHA standards for respirator use, sanitation, and storage which led to workers being exposed to lead, arsenic, and in once case up to 5.2 times the permissible limit of cancer-causing cadmium.
American Demolition was the most serious violator, incurring fines totaling $105,765. American Demolition did not have a written lead compliance program - a violation for which it had previously been cited in 2013 -nor did they provide medical monitoring for lead and zinc levels. American Demolition was also cited for not properly disposing of contaminated clothing, not maintaining surface areas in non-demolition areas where lead and arsenic were found, not properly calibrating carbon monoxide detectors where one air quality reading showed CO was 3.5 times more than the permissible level.
Valor Technologies was fined $64,538 for respiratory protective equipment violations, lack of information and training for working with arsenic, exposing workers to cadmium while scraping lead-based paint, exposing workers to lead and contamination in the lunchroom area, and incomplete exposure record keeping.
Tecnica Environmental Services was cited adn fine $50,194 for respirator contamination, incorrect storage, using unapproved CO filters, not monitoring CO in the air, not having a written respiratory protection program, and exposing workers to 3.5 times permissible levels of carbon monoxide, as well as airborne arsenic.
The companies have 15 days to respond to OSHA's findings.