Region 2 News Release: NY 199
October 4, 2000
Contact: Chester J. Fultz
BAY SHORE, NEW YORK, GARMENT FIRM CITED BY OSHA FOR ALLEGED HEALTH AND SAFETY VIOLATIONS AFTER WORKERS WERE SICKENED BY METHYLENE CHLORIDE; $122,650 IN PENALTIES PROPOSED
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited David Peyser Sportswear, Inc., of 88 Spence Street, Bayshore, New York, and proposed penalties of $122,650 against the firm for two alleged willful violations, 23 alleged serious violations, and two alleged other-than-serious violations of OSHA standards. The company has until October 24 to contest the citations.
According to OSHA area director Harvey Shapiro, the action results from an investigation begun on March 29 after his office was notified by Long Island Regional Poison Control that several employees had been overcome by vapors. OSHA compliance officers determined that employees had been using a mixture containing 70 percent methylene chloride and 30 percent perchlorethylene to remove paint from the floor. Methylene chloride is a widely used industrial solvent that can cause cancer or worsen heart problems for workers exposed to its vapors. As a result of the exposure, eight employees were taken to local hospitals for treatment.
The company employs about 100 workers at the facility, which is engaged in silk-screen printing of designs on garments.
OSHA alleges that the company willfully violated OSHA standards by failing to provide hand protection resistant to methylene chloride and failing to provide monitoring to determine employee exposure to methylene chloride. The willful violations carry a proposed penalty of $88,000.
The alleged serious violations for which the employer was cited included:
failure to have an emergency response plan;
failure to have procedures to contain spills and safely dispose of methylene chloride waste;
failure to provide personal washing facilities capable of removing methylene chloride;
failure to train employees in the use of personal protective equipment;
failure to inform employees of their exposure to methylene chloride in excess of permitted OSHA levels;
failure to have a written hazard communication program and have appropriate warning labels of hazardous-chemical containers;
failure to keep emergency exits unlocked and free of obstruction;
failure to have a lockout-tagout gram and the necessary hardware to prevent the accidental start-up of machines during servicing or maintenance;
failure to ensure that fire extinguishers were readily available and employees were trained in their use.
The serious violations carry a total proposed penalty of $34,650.
The firm was also cited for failure to ensure that exits were properly marked with exit signs, and failure to ensure that employees were trained in the safe operation of powered industrial trucks, two alleged other-than-serious violations.
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.
The investigation was conducted by OSHA's Long Island area office, located at 1400 Old Country Road, Suite 208, Westbury, New York, telephone (516) 334-3344.