Employees of Fraser Shipyards, Inc. were exposed to lead levels up to 20 times the exposure limit as they retrofitted a ship’s engine room, OSHA has found. The reason? Speed.

"Fraser Shipyards accepted a contract with a very low profit margin and penalties for delayed completion, but could not meet the schedule without endangering its workers," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels.

Agency inspectors also found that the company exposed workers to heavy metals and failed to:

  • conduct monitoring to assess employee exposure to lead
  • implement a lead compliance program or a respiratory protection program for lead, and
  • provide training on lead and asbestos hazards.

OSHA cited Fraser Shipyards Inc. with willful egregious health violations for each of 14 workers who were overexposed to lead. Proposed penalties: $1,395,000.

The agency opened its health inspection—which also resulted in citations for 10 serious violations—after receiving multiple complaints of unsafe working conditions.

The Wisconsin shipyard operator was placed in the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program for failing to address safety and health hazards.

"When companies prioritize profits and deadlines over the health and safety of their workforce, it is the workers who pay the price. Law-breaking employers must be held accountable for their unlawful behavior," said Michaels.