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Friday, May 11, 2012

OSHA Proposes Fines for NJ Uniform & Laundry Company

The U.S. Department of Labor has cited Wilmington, Mass.-based UniFirst Corp., a uniform and laundry service, for seven serious safety and health violations, including some involving bloodborne pathogen and lead exposure hazards, at its West Caldwell facility. A complaint alleging hazards prompted OSHA's inspection. Proposed penalties total $186,000.

"The violations at this facility compromise the safety and health of UniFirst's workers," said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA's Parsippany Area Office, which conducted the inspection. "It is vital that the company take appropriate steps to eliminate all identified hazards."

Three willful violations involve a failure to conduct proper training and provide hepatitis B vaccinations, as well as to have engineering and work practice controls in place to eliminate or minimize exposure to bloodborne pathogens. 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 citations carry $165,000 in penalties.

Four serious violations involve a locked emergency door, a lack of training on fire extinguisher use, lead-contaminated surfaces, inadequate training on OSHA's lead standard and not providing gloves to workers exposed to potentially contaminated clothing. 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 citations carry $21,000 in penalties.

"A first step toward a safer, healthier workplace is to develop and implement an illness and injury prevention program in which management and workers proactively identify and eliminate hazardous conditions," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional director in New York.

The citations can be viewed at*.

UniFirst Corp., which employs 35 workers at the West Caldwell facility, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Parsippany office at 973-263-1003.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA's role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, outreach and education. For more information, visit