Brooklyn, NY, recycler cited by US Labor Department's OSHA
for heat-related death
NEW YORK – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Cooper Tank & Welding Corp., doing business as Cooper Tank Recycling, for eight serious health and safety violations following the heat-related death of a 64-year-old worker at the Brooklyn recycling facility on 222 Maspeth Ave.
"This was a needless and preventable loss of life," said Kay Gee, OSHA's area director for Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. "This employer failed to train workers and implement safeguards that could have protected them from excessive heat conditions. Workers were also exposed to potentially fatal injuries from falls, electrocution and unguarded operating machine parts."
On July 19, 2013, the worker, who later suffered from heat illness and died, had been working for several hours on a conveyor line, sorting and recycling construction and demolition waste. Workers were exposed to excessive ambient heat stemming from environmental sources and the heat generated by recycling machinery. OSHA's investigation found that the company failed to inform and train workers on the recognition, prevention and treatment of heat-related illnesses and did not provide temperature controls in the work area or implement a work/rest regimen.
A feasible and acceptable means of addressing excessive heat includes, but is not limited to, establishing a heat stress management program containing training, procedures for heat acclimatization and what to do in emergencies.
OSHA found workers exposed to falls of 20 to 40 feet due to unguarded wall openings, missing guardrails and lack of fall protection equipment; electrocution hazards from an ungrounded electrical outlet and power cord; and lacerations and amputations from unguarded grinders. As a result, eight serious citations were issued. The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/CooperTankHealth.pdf* and http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/CooperTankSafety.pdf*.
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.
For more information about protecting workers from heat stress, visit http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatstress/index.html and http://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha-niosh-heat-illness-infosheet.pdf.* OSHA also has a free application for mobile devices that enables workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their work sites. It is available for download, in English and Spanish, on Android-based platforms and the iPhone at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/heat_index/heat_app.html.
The company, which faces $40,500 in fines, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Manhattan office at 212-620-3200.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.
* Accessibility Assistance Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.