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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Laundry in Paterson NJ Fined $165,000 by OSHA for Safety and Health Violations


Commercial laundries are the cause of many workers' compensation claims from toxic exposures and machine accidents. Enforce of safety and health laws goes a long way to prevent accidents at commercial laundry facilities.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Brite Services Inc., doing business as Star Laundry, for 39 serious safety and health violations found at its commercial laundry facility in Paterson. Inspectors were prompted by a complaint alleging the company would not allow workers to leave the building during an emergency. Proposed penalties total $164,700.

OSHA found electrical hazards and an obstructed and improperly marked exit route. Additional violations include: allowing employees to potentially be struck by traffic while transporting laundry bins from one building to another while crossing a public street; failing to provide a cover and guardrails for open pits; provide a handrail for the stairway; evaluate the workplace for permit-required confined spaces; post signs informing workers of confined spaces; and develop a written confined space permit program. Other violations include failing to establish an energy control program for performing maintenance/servicing work; train power industrial truck operators; take powered industrial trucks in need of repair out-of-service; insulate or cover steam pipes less than 7 feet from the floor; properly guard machines; implement a hearing conservation program for workers exposed to noise levels at 88 and 89 decibels; ensure safety goggle usage; provide an unblocked eyewash station; develop a written hazard communication program; and provide hazard communication training.

"The vast number and range of safety and health hazards observed by OSHA at this facility indicates the lack of a functioning safety and health management system," said Lisa Levy, director of OSHA's area office in Hasbrouck Heights. "Each employer is responsible for ensuring a safe and healthful work environment, which Brite Services did not do. This company has the opportunity now to educate itself, correct these hazards and protect its workers."

Brite Services Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director in Hasbrouck Heights, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.