NAUGATUCK — Workers for a Valley contractor performing abrasive blasting during the renovation of a Massachusetts mill were overexposed to lead and silica and faced other health hazards due to their employer's failure to supply legally required safeguards. As a result, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Maher Industries, doing business as A Fast Blast, for 17 serious violations of workplace health standards.

OSHA found that employees were exposed to airborne concentrations of lead and silica generated by the abrasive blasting, which was in excess of permissible exposure limits. Feasible engineering or administrative controls to reduce the exposure levels were not in place or in use. The lead exposure hazard was compounded by the lack of a shower facility and protective clothing and eye protection for exposed workers. The company failed to monitor lead exposure levels and allowed employees to consume beverages adjacent to abrasive blasting.

A Fast Blast had 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.