A Wisconsin shipyard has been fined almost $1.4m for exposing its workers to levels of lead way beyond the legal limit.
Fraser Shipyards, in Superior, was fined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for violations during the retrofitting of Great Lakes vessel the bulk carrier Herbert C Jackson (24,930 dwt, built 1959).
OSHA, a division of the Department of Labour, found that 14 workers were exposed to the high levels, some as much as 20 times the threshold.
The agency began inspecting in February following a complaint from a sub-contractor.
As well as lead some workers were exposed to other heavy metals, the agency found.
OSHA’s report suggested that Fraser cut corners because of time pressure to complete the contract on time.
The company rejected the suggestion it would jeopardize its workers’ health for the profit motive.
Fraser, a family company with a 126-year pedigree, had several previous violations.
In a statement the company said that it had halted work as soon as the high levels were discovered and that since the incident it had invested in improving safety equipment and work practices.