Oct. 2, 2014
Somerville, New Jersey, company fined $136,290 for
willfully exposing workers to safety and health hazards
SOMERVILLE, N.J. – Custom-order cabinetry company Choice Cabinetry LLC exposed employees to safety and health hazards, many involving methylene chloride, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Initiated as part of its Site-Specific Targeting Program for industries with high injury and illness rates, OSHA's March 2014 inspection cited the Somerville company for 15 violations, including three willful. Proposed penalties total $136,290.
"Methylene chloride is a carcinogen, so it's vital that employers like Choice Cabinetry take all necessary steps to protect workers when there is exposure," said Patricia Jones, director of OSHA's Avenel Area Office. "All workers have the right to a safe and healthy work environment, and OSHA will hold each employer accountable when this legal obligation is not met."
Three willful violations were cited for the company's lack of a hazard communication program, hazard communication training and methylene chloride training. Workers exposed to methylene chloride are at increased risk of developing cancer and skin and eye irritation and may suffer adverse effects on the heart, central nervous system and liver. These willful citations carry a penalty of $53,900. 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.
One failure-to-abate citation, with a $27,720 penalty, was issued for the company's failure to install alarms on the walk-in spray booth. Alarms would warn employees of inadequate ventilation during spraying operations. A failure-to-abate violation exists when the employer has not corrected a violation for which OSHA has issued a citation and the abatement date has passed or is covered under a settlement agreement.
Carrying a penalty of $21,560, four repeat violations were cited for damaging noise levels and respiratory program deficiencies. The company was previously cited for these violations at the same location in 2011. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.
The company was cited for seven serious violations, carrying a $32,340 penalty, due to employee exposure to methylene chloride, including a lack of personal protective equipment and eyewash facilities. 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.
One additional violation with a $770 penalty was cited because the company failed to provide injury and illness records within four hours of OSHA's request.
Citations can be viewed at: http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/ChoiceCabinetry2014.pdf.
Choice Cabinetry has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & 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 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.
Release Number: 14-1800-NEW (osha 14-084)
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