The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recently fined a New York recycling center more than $40,000 for safety violations following a fatal workplace accident. According to reports, on July 19, 2013 a worker at the New York plant died after being exposed to excessive heat. Prior to his death, the worker had been sorting demolition and construction debris on a conveyor line. Following the work, the employee suffered from a heat-related illness and died.
In its investigation, OSHA claims that the heat was due to the machinery and from ambient sources in the recycling center. However, investigators say that the company did not have an appropriate work-rest routine for employees. Furthermore, OSHA says that the company did not provide temperature controls inside the work environment and failed to train employees to recognize the signs of heat-related illnesses.
In addition to these violations, OSHA also found ungrounded electrical equipment inside the plant. Workers were also exposed to unguarded openings in the walls which could result in a fall of between 20 and 40 feet — guardrails and fall protection equipment were not provided to employees.
In total, OSHA cited the company with eight serious violations. The company has 15 days to respond to these allegations and to the citations.
As this case shows, when New York businesses fail to follow federally required safety regulations, workers can get seriously hurt and even killed. There is no excuse for businesses to put their employees’ safety and health at risk. However, violations occur in many workplaces and often result in workplace accidents and injuries. In these cases, workers’ compensation may be available to help workers financially recover from an accident.
Source: Construction & Demolition Recycling, “OSHA fines New York recycler for heat-related death” Feb. 5, 2014