Most employers are aware that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires covered employers to provide a safe workplace for employees. As part of their general enforcement duties or in response to a complaint, OSHA officers can enter and inspect “your” workplace. Compliance in all areas, workplace safety, record keeping, and reporting are mandatory and instrumental to alleviating hefty fines. In the OSHA press release below you will get a glimpse of what officers generally examine and the large fines that will be imposed.
OSHA finds Marietta Corp. and its staffing agency violated safety standards
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – A leading maker of soap and shampoo for hotels and retail sale exposed workers to chemical and fire hazards and blocked emergency exit routes, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found in a November 2014 inspection. A company that provided it the manufacturer with temporary employees was cited for chemical-related hazards.
Acting on employee complaints, inspectors visited Marietta Corp. in Cortland and found flammable liquids were not stored or used properly; employees with respirators were not trained or checked medically; and containers with hazardous chemicals were not labeled correctly. Similar hazards were found at the Cortland plant in 2011 and at the company’s Chicago facility in 2010.
In addition, inspectors found workers without needed eye and face protection and emergency eyewash stations; employees not trained in the use of dangerous chemicals; and forklift operators who did not receive refresher training. In total, Marietta was cited for three repeat and six serious violations with $103,800 in fines.
“The fact that we found new and repeated hazards shows Marietta Corp. must take worker health and well-being more seriously,” said Christopher Adams, OSHA’s area director in Syracuse. “Its employees are at risk of illness, injury or worse from dangerous chemicals, fire and an inability to escape in an emergency.”
Select Staffing, the temporary agency that recruits workers for Marietta, received two serious violations with $10,000 in fines proposed. The staffing agency did not provide workers exposed to dangerous chemicals with proper eye and face protection; lacked accessible data sheets for hazardous chemicals; and did not prove that a hazard assessment had been done to determine what protective equipment employees would need.
In April 2013, OSHA announced an initiative to improve workplace safety and health for temporary workers, who are at increased risk of work-related injury and illness. The initiative includes outreach, training and enforcement to ensure that temporary workers are protected in their workplaces. OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have issued a “Recommended Practices” publication that focuses on ensuring that temporary workers receive the same training and protection that existing workers receive.
The companies have 15 business days from receipt of their citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.