US Department of Labor's OSHA cites 5 companies following December 2013 fatality of
temporary worker at Amazon fulfillment center in Avenel, NJ
AVENEL, N.J. – On Dec. 4, 2013, temporary worker Ronald Smith died from injuries sustained after he was caught in between a conveyor system and crushed while performing sorting operations at an Amazon fulfillment center in Avenel. Following an investigation initiated in response to the fatality, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited five companies for serious violations, including the contractor responsible for operating the facility, and four temporary staffing agencies.
"Temporary staffing agencies and host employers are jointly responsible for the safety and health of temporary employees. These employers must assess the work site to ensure that workers are adequately protected from potential hazards," said Patricia Jones, director of OSHA's Avenel Area Office. "It is essential that employers protect all workers from job hazards-both temporary and permanent workers."
Third-party logistics provider Genco, based in Pittsburgh, was contracted by Amazon to direct the temporary employees from four staffing agencies involved in sorting operations. The employees were required to monitor the conveyors and sorting machine to ensure packages were positioned properly while traveling over the conveyor and sorting belts.
Genco was cited for one serious violation for not certifying that a hazard assessment of the facility had been conducted before assigning employees to work. 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.
Temporary staffing agencies Abacus-The Corporate Services Co., Baltimore, which employed Smith; New York-based Corporate Resource Services Inc., doing business as Diamond Staffing Services; Remedy Intelligent Staffing Inc., doing business as a division of Selective Staffing, Santa Barbara, Calif.; and Staffmark, headquartered in Ohio, were each cited by OSHA for one serious violation for failure to perform a hazard assessment of the facility before assigning employees to determine if hazards existed.
In April 2013, OSHA announced an initiative to improve workplace safety and health for temporary workers. Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries shows fatal work injuries involving contractor worker fatalities, including temporary help service workers, accounted for 708, or 16 percent, of the 4,383 fatal work injuries in 2012. Additional details are available at http://bls.gov/iif/home.htm.
Genco and the four temporary staffing agencies each face $6,000 in penalties proposed by OSHA and have 15 business days from receipt of their citations and penalties to comply, ask for an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA is currently investigating a separate fatality that occurred on June 1, 2014, at an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Carlisle, Pa.
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 Avenel Area Office at 732-750-3270.
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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