It took one worker losing fingers to get the company hit with a stiff fine from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
According to an OSHA report, Lieze Associates, doing business as Eagle Recycling of New Jersey, was saddled with one repeat and three serious safety violations after a worker’s fingers were amputated in December 2012 at the company’s North Bergen recycling transfer station. OSHA’s investigation came in response to a referral by the North Bergen Police Department and has resulted in proposed fines of $70,070.
“This incident should have been prevented by simply locking out the machine’s power source,” commented Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA’s Parsippany Area Office. “Eagle Recycling of New Jersey’s continued disregard for complying with OSHA safety standards will not be tolerated.”
Employer Failed to Follow Safety Procedures
As the investigation unfolded, OSHA inspectors discovered that procedures were not put in place that day to lock out the energy source of a conveyor belt system while the worker was clearing a cardboard jam, which resulted in the amputation.
OSHA cited the employer with a serious violation for failing to implement a lockout/tagout program to control potentially hazardous energy. Another violation includes failing to ensure a ladder placed with the two top rails was supported and placed with secure footing. 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.
Company Given 15 Business Days to Comply
The repeat violation was cited for exposing workers to 8-foot fall hazards while working on unguarded platforms. A repeat violation is handed down when an employer previously has been cited for the same or similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. A similar violation was cited in 2009 and 2010.
The company was given 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, ask for an informal conference with OSHA’s area director in Parsippany, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.