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Gun range fined $15,000, accused of not protecting staff from lead exposure

OSHA inspectors found the owner failed to properly monitor employees and did not test the effectiveness of the ventilation system.

Federal workplace safety officials have slapped a Philadelphia gun range with more than $15,000 in fines, finding that the owner failed to protect employees from airborne lead dust.

Yuri Zalzman, owner of the business on North Percy Street called the Gun Range, did not respond to a request for comment. A message left with an attorney who has represented him in his quest to sell firearms at the facility also was not returned.

The citation for exposure to the toxic metal was issued March 23 by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The owner has until Monday to contest it if he chooses, agency officials said. Asked what levels of lead were measured in employees' blood, OSHA spokeswoman Leni Fortson said she could not comment because the case was still open.

The citation, based on multiple inspections, is broken into four parts:

  1. In a Nov. 18 site visit, inspectors determined that the shooting range had not monitored employees for lead exposure. Later that month, they found that the range failed to conduct adequate air monitoring.

  2. The range failed to measure the effectiveness of its ventilation system, inspectors wrote after a Jan. 11 visit.

  3. The facility also did not properly clean its lunch table, inspectors wrote after wiping the surface during the same visit and testing the cloth for the toxic metal.

  4. Finally, the agency said the gun range did not provide employees with detailed information about lead and its health effects as required.

Lead exposure is most commonly known for the danger it poses to the developing brains of small children. At higher levels, it also poses risks to adults, potentially damaging the nervous system, kidney, and other organs.

OSHA standards require that adults exposed to lead in workplace settings be routinely tested to ensure that levels of the metal remain below 40 micrograms per deciliter of blood. For children, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has established a stricter benchmark of five micrograms.

Zalzman opened the Gun Range in 2010, according to a December 2015 Daily News article.

He said he averaged 12,500 customers a year, each spending an average of $85 a visit, which includes the cost of renting a gun, a lane in the shooting range, and training from staff.

The workplace-safety findings prompted dismay from Bryan Miller, head of a nonprofit that has opposed Zalzman's effort to sell guns at the facility.

"Zalzman's apparent lack of care for employees is consistent with that towards the neighborhood," said Miller, executive director of Heeding God's Call to End Gun Violence.