The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited AJR Landscaping Inc. – based in Cresskill, New Jersey – for exposing employees to carbon monoxide (CO) after two workers succumbed to the toxic gas.
OSHA initiated an inspection after the Washington Township New Jersey Police Department notified the agency that the workers died from CO exposure after a gasoline-powered lawnmower was started inside an enclosed company trailer that transported the crew to a jobsite. OSHA issued serious citations to AJR for exposing the employees to carbon monoxide, and for failing to train employees to recognize the hazard. The company faces penalties of $17,051.
“Any time there is a gas-powered motor or engine running in an enclosed space, there is risk of exposure to exhaust fumes, which contain carbon monoxide, an odorless and poisonous gas,” said OSHA Area Office Director Lisa Levy, in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. “This tragedy was preventable if the employer had adhered to basic safety and health practices.”
"In Fiore v. Consolidated Freightways, Inc., 140 N.J. 452659 A.2d 436 (NJ 1995), the NJ Supreme Court unanimously recognized that an occupational heart condition is compensable under the Workers' Compensation Act. While recognizing that diseases are complex and their causes multi-factoral, the court realized that experts can disagree on the relative roles of an occupational exposure and personal-risk factors in causing a coronary condition. The court ruled that the appropriate section of the Workers' Compensation Act to address the issue of causation in occupational disease, including cardiovascular, is N.J.S.A. 34:15-31and not solely N.J.S.A. 34:15-7." Gelman, Jon L, Workers’ Compensation Law, 38 NJPRAC 9.15 (Thomson-Reuters 2019.
OSHA provides compliance assistance resources on preventing carbon monoxide poisoning at https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/carbonmonoxide-factsheet.pdf.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman firstname.lastname@example.org has been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.