Thirty-four DLA employees at Robins tested for lead exposure

WARNER ROBINS -- Blood tests for lead exposure on about half of the 34 civilians who work for the Defense Logistics Agency in a distribution warehouse at Robins Air Force Base have all been normal. The remaining 18 test results are pending.

That’s according to a DLA statement released late Tuesday afternoon following Occupational Safety and Health Administration findings related to lead exposure. Two citations were issued June 1 for unsafe or unhealthful working conditions.

“We are concerned for employee safety and health everywhere we operate,” Twila Gonzales, director of DLA Disposition Services in Battle Creek, Mich., said in the statement. “We appreciate the work the local union safety personnel and the base safety and environmental offices are doing with us to take care of this matter in a compliant and timely manner.”

Plans are being developed for cleanup of Building 1602, and DLA personnel are working with the base to use a contractor who does that type of work, according to the statement. When the cleanup will take place has not been specified.

According to the statement, “no source for the contamination OSHA says it found on site is readily apparent.” But efforts to determine the source of the contamination are expected to be made.

The statement noted that airborne contamination was not detected.

According to the statement, “Use of the site will be halted immediately if conditions change, and the site will be closed during the planned cleanup.”

One of the OSHA citations included four serious violations related to exposure to lead in dust above the permissible limit in the building.

The presence of lead was confirmed in dust samples taken from a printer on a desk near the break table March 16 that measured 24.3030 micrograms of lead and on a storage rack that measured 96.2230 micrograms of lead, the OSHA notice stated. The OSHA standard states that no employee should be exposed to lead at concentrations greater than 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged during an eight-hour period.

Appropriate protective work clothing and equipment were not provided at no cost, all surfaces were not maintained as free as practicable of lead accumulations and employees had not been trained on the presence of lead, the notice stated.

The other citation included one violation related to an employee working in the building who used a respirator to avoid inhaling dust when sorting items for reuse and disposal. The employee had not received training consistent with OSHA standards, the notice stated.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.