OSHA Cites Industrial Laundry for Exposing Workers To Safety and Health Hazards

July 08, 2004

OSHA has cited Angelica Textile Services, an industrial laundry in Rockmart, Ga., and proposed $50,000 in penalties for allegedly exposing employees to serious health and safety hazards at the company's Marquette Road laundry facility.

OSHA's investigation, launched Feb. 12, 2004, found that employees who sorted and washed soiled laundry from healthcare facilities were not informed of the hazards associated with their jobs, had not received safety training in a language they understood, and were not provided with personal protective equipment.

The agency cited the company for eight alleged serious health violations, with proposed penalties of $31,500, including failure to clean and decontaminate the area where employees sorted soiled laundry; exposing them to bloodborne pathogens; and not providing easily accessible containers for hazardous medical devices, such as needles.

The company was also cited for four alleged serious safety violations in the washing area, with proposed penalties of $18,500. Citations were issued for failure to develop and implement a lockout-tagout program that would render the large industrial washing machines inoperable while employees dislodged linens; and for failure to develop and implement a confined space program, which requires monitoring the air in the washing machines before workers enter. Both programs require that employees receive safety training, warning signs be posted near the equipment, and procedures be in place for first aid and emergency rescue services.

The company has 15 working days to contest the OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Failure to Protect Workers from Moving Machine Parts Results in Significant OSHA Fine

Norse Dairy Systems, a division of Interbake Foods Inc. in Columbus, Ohio, is facing $122,000 in proposed penalties from OSHA following a January 2004 inspection that revealed a number of dangerous workplace violations.

OSHA opened its investigation in response to a complaint about safety issues at the plant, which primarily manufactures and supplies equipment, packaging and flavorings to the novelty ice cream industry. The subsequent inspection found alleged willful violations of OSHA regulations, including lack of machine guarding to prevent amputations and similar injuries, and failure to control all energy sources during maintenance operations on machinery. In addition, serious safety problems were noted, including failure to monitor lead exposure and failure to provide training on various workplace safety and health issues.

The company employs approximately 3,500 full-time workers at facilities in California, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. There are 170 workers at the Columbus site. OSHA has conducted 11 inspections at the various company locations and in October 1996 issued serious citations related to an amputation accident.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to appeal before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

New DVD on Workplace Violence Offers Resources, Recommendations

A new training and educational DVD from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provides employers, employees, safety professionals, and others with recommendations and resources for preventing work-related homicides and assaults.

 It is based on extensive NIOSH research, supplemented with information from other authoritative sources.

Homicide in the workplace is the third leading cause of job-related fatalities, and the second leading cause of job-related fatalities for women. Each week in the U.S., 17 employees on average are murdered at work and 33,000 on average are assaulted. Factors that place workers at risk for violence in the workplace include interacting with the public, exchanging money, delivering services or goods, working late at night or during early morning hours, working alone, guarding valuables or property, and dealing with violent people or volatile situations.

"The DVD format offers exciting new capabilities as an engaging, interactive, and effective tool for safety and health education in the workplace," said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. "We are confident that this new DVD will help meet an ongoing demand by businesses and employees for information they can use to keep their workplaces safe from acts of violence."

Included in the new DVD are:

  • A 21-minute training and education program designed to engage a wide variety of workplace audiences.
  • A bonus video on a program in New York State for preventing workplace violence in state drug treatment facilities. The case study includes discussions by a labor representative and a management representative who were instrumental in developing and implementing the program.
  • OSHA's guidelines for preventing workplace violence in health care workplaces, late-night retail settings, and taxicab services.
  • Access to additional materials and resources on preventing workplace violence.
  • Copies can be ordered at no charge from the toll-free NIOSH information number, 1-800-35-NIOSH. 

OSHA Extends Comment Period on Site-Specific Targeting Program

OSHA announced it is extending for 30 days the public comment period on the agency's Site Specific Targeting (SST) inspection program.

OSHA announced the initial comment period in May, requesting suggestions that can help improve the SST program. The original comment period was scheduled to end July 6, 2004; however, some parties have asked for additional time to adequately review the details of the program.

The SST program, first implemented in 1999, uses data from the OSHA Data Initiative survey to focus the agency's inspection resources on workplaces that have reported high injury and illness rates. Establishments selected under the SST program receive comprehensive safety and health inspections. The survey also serves as a resource to provide outreach, consultations, and technical assistance to employers.

Written comments on OSHA's SST inspection program must be submitted in duplicate to the Docket Officer, Docket C-08, Room N2625, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC, (202) 693-2350. Comments limited to 10 pages or fewer may also be transmitted by fax to (202) 693-2350. Comments of 10 pages or fewer may be faxed to the Docket Office at (202) 693-1648, provided that the original and one copy are sent to the Docket Office immediately thereafter. 

A Federal Register notice announcing the extension is forthcoming. Comments will be due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

OSHA Announces Limited Reopening of Personal Protective Equipment Rulemaking Record

OSHA announced it will reopen for 45 days its rulemaking record on the proposed rule, Employer Payment for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Due to the significant amount of comments received in the record and after analyzing the issues raised in the comments, OSHA has determined that further information is necessary to fully explore the issues concerning paying for PPE that is considered to be a "tool of the trade."

The agency is seeking comments on issues that relate to whether or how a general rule on payment for PPE should address types of personal protective equipment that are typically supplied by the employee, taken from job site to job site or from employer to employer, and considered to be "tools of the trade."

The provisions in current OSHA standards that require PPE usually state that the employer is to provide or ensure the use of PPE. Certain provisions specify that the employer is to provide PPE at no cost to the employee; others suggest that the PPE is owned by the employee, while other provisions are silent as to who is obligated to pay for this equipment.