Region 2 News Release: NY 174
August 23, 2001
Contact: Chester J. Fultz
JERSEY CITY FIRM CITED BY OSHA FOR SAFETY AND HEALTH VIOLATIONS; $102,000 IN PENALTIES PROPOSED
NEW YORK -- A Jersey City, N.J., metals reclaiming firm's failure to protect its employees from exposure to toxic metals is bringing a proposed fine of $102,000 by the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA is citing the Metallix Corporation for two alleged willful and 29 alleged serious violations of OSHA standards.
The company has until September 12 to contest the citations.
OSHA inspected the Jersey Ave. facility in response to an employee's complaint of inadequate protection against exposure to lead and other toxic metals. Metallix Corporation reclaims metals such as lead, beryllium, copper, silver, and cadmium by incinerating and melting scrap from computers and other electronic equipment. During the process employees can be exposed to airborne particles of the metals.
"Our investigation revealed that this employer, despite being advised to reduce or eliminate employee exposure, failed to take the appropriate action. Protecting employees from the insidious toxic effects of metal exposure requires a complete and well implemented compliance program. Employers cannot choose to take some actions while ignoring other safeguards," said David Ippolito, OSHA area director in Parsippany.
OSHA alleges that the company willfully violated OSHA standards by failing to ensure that employees were provided medical surveillance for lead exposure, and by not giving training on the hazards of the chemicals to which they were exposed and on proper lockout-tagout procedures to follow when conducting maintenance on machinery.
The willful violations carry a total proposed penalty of $62,500.
The investigation was conducted by OSHA's Parsippany area office, located at 299 Cherry Hill Road, suite 304, Parsippany, New Jersey, telephone (973) 263-1003.
A summary of the alleged serious violations is attached.
SUMMARY OF ALLEGED SERIOUS VIOLATIONS - Metallix Corporation
Alleged serious violations for which the employer was cited included:
- failure to prevent employee overexposure to silver, beryllium, and lead;
- failure to notify employees of the results of tests of exposure to lead and cadmium;
- failure to carry out proper housekeeping to ensure that surfaces were as lead-free as possible;
- failure to use cleaning methods that did not reintroduce lead into the workplace;
- failure to ensure that employees overexposed to lead showered at the end of their shifts;
- failure to conduct biological monitoring for lead as often as required;
- failure to have medical surveillance for workers exposed to cadmium;
- failure to train laboratory employees about the hazards of the chemicals in their workplace and maintain material safety data sheets on the chemicals;
- failure to have an effective hearing conservation program and train employees exposed to excessive noise;
- failure to provide adequate eye protection, respiratory protection, hand protection against cyanide, and fire-fighting training;
- failure to provide training in lockout-tagout procedures for maintenance workers to prevent the accidental start-up of machinery during repair or servicing.
The serious violations carry a total proposed penalty of $39,000.
Metallix Corporation was also cited for failure to properly record injuries on the required log of injuries and illnesses, an alleged other-than-serious violation with a proposed penalty of $500.
A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard for, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSHA act and regulations.
A serious violation is defined as a condition which exists where there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result.
An other-than-serious violation is a hazardous condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.
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