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OSHA Proposes an Almost $1.4 Million Fine for a Wisconsin Shipyard

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed a nearly $1.4 million fine for Fraser Shipyards based out of Superior, WI. The governmental organization cited the shipyard for 14 violations involving lead and asbestos exposure that the U.S. Department of Labor called “willful egregious health violations” in a news release they issued on August 1[1]. The Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, David Michaels, had this to say on the citations:

“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. This employer was unwilling to pay the necessary costs to protect employees from lead exposure.”

The contract in question was the repowering of an Interlake Steamship Co. freighter named the Herbert C. Jackson. The job was the largest that Fraser Shipyards has worked on since the 1980’s.

The repowering of the freighter, changing it to a diesel-propelled system from steam power, was paused back in February when lead paint was discovered by Fraser Shipyards on various work surfaces. Following OSHA’s investigation into the company after they were alerted to a complaint regarding the job, Fraser Shipyards was placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program for not adequately addressing the health and safety hazards. Five other willful violations were cited in the news release announcing the fine for:

“[F]ailing to conduct monitoring to assess employee exposure to lead, failing to implement a lead compliance program or a respiratory protection program for lead and for failing to provide training on lead and asbestos hazards.”

According to OSHA’s report, the management at Fraser Shipyards was fully aware that there was lead and asbestos throughout the Herbert C. Jackson, and ignored their own safety manuals as well as federal regulations while working on the vessel. This is not the first time OSHA has cited Fraser Shipyards for asbestos and lead violations; they were cited for asbestos exposure back in 2000, and the company received several lead violations in 1993.

Exposure to asbestos can lead to mesothelioma, as well as a variety of other conditions. Anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the United States every year, and thousands more die every year from the condition. If you or someone you love has been exposed to asbestos or diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be able to pursue legal action to help cover any costs that may come from your condition, including medical bills.

If you are planning to file a claim, it’s important to hire a qualified mesothelioma attorney to represent you. At Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC, we have spent years protecting the rights of victims who developed this life-threatening disease, and have an entire division of our company dedicated to mesothelioma litigation. Call us today at (888) 367-7160 to speak with one of our lawyers, or fill out our online form for a free case consultation.