US Department of Labor’s OSHA fines Paterson, NJ, company $126,000 for failing to guard machines and exposing workers to fall and electrical hazards

Date First Published on SafetySmart Compliance: November 21st, 2011
Topics: Electricity | Fall Protection |

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Supply Plus NJ Inc. with one willful, 25 serious and two other-than-serious safety violations in response to a complaint alleging imminent danger for failing to guard machines and exposing workers to fall and electrical hazards at the company’s Paterson facility. Proposed penalties total $126,000.

A May inspection revealed one willful violation, with a $42,000 penalty, for failing to provide machine guarding. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

The serious violations, with $84,000 in penalties, include failing to keep work areas and passageways free of litter; provide guardrail protection, guard machines and electrical boxes; provide an eyewash station; provide personal protective equipment for workers handling chemicals; provide industrial truck and hazardous communication training; ensure exit routes were unobstructed and visibly marked; make sure exit doors could open properly; cover electrical panel boards supplying power for equipment and lighting; properly use flexible cords; implement a lockout/tagout program for energy sources to prevent machines from accidentally starting up during servicing and maintenance; perform workplace hazards assessment and develop a written hazardous communication program. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The other-than-serious violations, which carry no penalty, are due to record-keeping violations. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

“Each of these violations left workers vulnerable to hazards that could cause serious injuries or quite possibly death,” said Lisa Levy, OSHA’s area director in Hasbrouck Heights. “It’s vital that Supply Plus correct these hazards to protect its workers.”

The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/SupplyPlusNJInc._314678012_and_314678376_1117_11.pdf.

Supply Plus, a sponge processing company employing about 40 workers at its Paterson location, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, ask for an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Source: OSHA Regional News Release

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