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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Employer Fined $185,000 for Exposing Employees to Toxic Substances and Other Safety Isues

Even products that are fit for human consumption are made with chemicals, that are used in the manufacturing process with greater concentration, are health hazards. A company in NJ failed to protect its workers from those concentrations and as a result are facing serious charges by OSHA. The precaution to a workers' compensation claim is maintaining a safe work environment so that accidents, injuries and toxic exposures to not occur.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited eSmoke LLC, an electronic 
cigarette manufacturer based in Lakewood, with 20 workplace safety and health violations. OSHA's inspection was prompted by a complaint alleging serious safety and health hazards throughout the facility, resulting in $184,500 in proposed penalties.

"Each of these hazards has the potential to cause serious injury and must be abated as soon as possible," said Paula Dixon-Roderick, director of the OSHA Marlton Area Office. "We want to ensure that workers can go home healthy at the end of every workday."

Two willful violations, with a $112,500 penalty, include not providing and enforcing the use of protective gloves when workers handle products containing nicotine and eye protection when handling corrosive chemicals and concentrated nicotine. 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.

Sixteen serious violations, carrying $72,000 in penalties, include failing to select and require appropriate hand protection for workers exposed to toxic chemicals, prohibit food consumption in toxic-exposed work areas and mount a portable fire extinguisher and train workers on its usage. The company also lacked a written hazard communication program and training; proper labels for containers filled with liquid nicotine; material safety data sheets for the products manufactured; directional signs indicating the exit pathway; markings for non-exit doors; securely anchored drill presses; power strips to supply electric power to multiple devices; and flexible cords as a substitute for fixed wiring. Additionally, exit passageways and electrical panels were blocked. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

Two other-than-serious violations, carrying no penalty, were also cited for not providing eye protection to workers exposed to liquid chemicals and an insufficient number of bathrooms. 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.
"One means of eliminating hazards, such as these, is for employers to establish an injury and illness prevention program in which workers and management can continually identify and eliminate hazardous conditions," said Robert D. Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.