State inspector reviews removal of lead in Erie County parks

Erie County

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A state inspector visited Erie County employees working to remove lead from county parks on Thursday, a New York State Department of Labor Spokesperson confirmed.

The inspector for the Department of Labor’s Public Employee Safety and Health (PESH) Unit did not issue a stop work order, but county officials say she made one recommendation.

“The inspector’s only recommendation was that crews performing the work should use a water spray bottle to spray water on any equipment that would be cut prior to cutting,” said Peter Anderson, a county spokesperson. “As crews were already focusing cuts on paint-free areas, this was not a problem.

“So in good faith, that recommendation was accepted.”

Anderson said the work stopped briefly Thursday while a spray bottle was obtained, but later resumed.

Rich Canazzi, the president of AFSCME Local 1095, the union which represents the county employees removing the lead, says he requested a PESH inspector review the work earlier this week.

“Two of the guys out of the three that were doing the job complained that they had issues with their eyes and they were rubbing them,” Canazzi said.

Canazzi has field a grievance with the county over the work.

Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw first raised the issue of lead in county parks in July. A review by the county’s parks department found high levels of lead based paint in 66 pieces of equipment. They were blocked off with caution tape.

At a county legislature meeting last week, Dr. Gale Burstein, the Erie County Health Commissioner, tried to calm some nerves.

“I believe there is a very low risk of lead exposure from against park equipment,” Burstein told lawmakers.

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