Star Snacks Co. LLC fined $180,000 by US Department of Labor's OSHA for
willfully exposing employees to carbon monoxide and dangerous noise levels
BAYONNE, N.J. – Roasted nut manufacturer Star Snacks Co. LLC has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for two willful and six serious safety violations, resulting in a $180,000 proposed penalty. The violations include overexposure to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide and noise hazards found at the company's Bayonne manufacturing facility.
"A forklift operator was overexposed to carbon monoxide and hospitalized in 2007, but Star Snacks Co. still doesn't have the necessary safeguards in place to protect its employees from carbon monoxide, noise and other workplace hazards," said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA's Parsippany Area Office. "This lack of care for employee health is unacceptable."
The willful violations, carrying a $140,000 penalty, were cited because employees were exposed to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Overexposure to carbon monoxide can cause dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness and death. The company also was cited for its failure to provide baseline and annual audiograms and implement controls to reduce noise levels. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
The serious violations, with a $40,000 penalty, were issued because the company failed to provide employees training in chemical and noise hazards. Other citations were issued for failing to: provide suitable hearing protection; ensure employees who experienced hearing loss were refitted and retrained in the use of hearing protectors; ensure complete recordkeeping of audiometric testing results; provide safe exit routes; and implement a written chemical hazard communication program. 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.
The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/StarSnacksCoLLC945501.pdf*
To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in the workplace, employers should install an effective ventilation system, avoid the use of fuel-burning equipment in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces, use carbon monoxide detectors in areas where the hazard is a concern, and take other precautions outlined in OSHA's carbon monoxide fact sheet*. For additional information on carbon monoxide poisoning and preventing exposure in the workplace, see OSHA's carbon monoxide poisoning quick cards in English* and Spanish*.
Approximately 22 million workers nationwide are exposed to potentially damaging noise yearly, and thousands of workers annually suffer from preventable hearing loss due to high workplace noise levels. In 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported more than 20,000 cases of work-related hearing loss. OSHA offers information about noise hazards at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/noisehearingconservation/index.html.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director in Parsippany, or contest the citations and proposed penalties 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 Parsippany Area Office at 973-263-1003.
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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