Region 2 News Release: 11-501-NEW/BOS 2011-150
April 26, 2011
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
US Labor Department's OSHA cites Buffalo, NY, recycler
for health and safety hazards following worker injury
BUFFALO, N.Y. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Buffalo Recycling Enterprises LLC for 15 alleged violations of workplace health and safety standards following an Oct. 7, 2010, incident in which an employee's arm was severely lacerated when it became caught in a conveyor belt that activated while he was trying to clear a paper jam.
The recycling facility located at 266 Hopkins St. in Buffalo was cited for hazardous energy control (lockout/tagout) and bloodborne pathogen hazards, among others.
"These citations illustrate two primary workplace safety and health concerns: traumatic injury from being caught in machinery that wasn't properly shut down and locked out, and potential exposure to disease from inadequate precautions against blood and sharps," said Arthur Dube, OSHA's area director in Buffalo. "Both of these hazards can be addressed by equipping employees with knowledge and tools to minimize work-related hazards and help them do their jobs safely."
OSHA's inspection determined that the conveyor had not been de-energized and had its power source locked out before the employee attempted to clear the jam, and that the area supervisor had not ensured that the employee was clear of the hazard before activating the machine.
The inspection also found that neither the employees who cleaned up the worker's blood after the accident nor those whose duties involve the sorting and disposal of needles and other potentially infectious sharps had received training in bloodborne hazards. In addition, the facility's bloodborne pathogen program had not been reviewed and updated, annual refresher training had not been provided to workers, the hepatitis B vaccine was not made available and sharps were disposed of improperly.
Finally, the facility did not develop and implement a monitoring program for noise exposure when required.
These conditions resulted in the issuance of 10 serious citations with $60,000 in fines. 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. Five other-than-serious violations, with $1,000 in fines, were cited for incomplete illness and injury logs. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
Detailed information on hazards and safeguards related to lockout/tagout procedures and bloodborne pathogens, is available online at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/controlhazardousenergy/index.html and http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/bloodbornepathogens/index.html, respectively.
"One means of preventing hazards such as these is for employers to establish an injury and illness prevention program through which workers and management continually work to identify and eliminate hazardous conditions," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.
Buffalo Recycling Enterprises has elected to contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Buffalo Area Office; telephone 716-551-3053.
To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
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.
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.