US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Sterilite Corp. and staffing agency for
exposing full-time and temporary workers to unsafe conditions
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Sterilite Corp., doing business as Sterilite of Alabama LLC, and Marathon Staffing Corp. Inc., for 13 safety and health violations. OSHA initiated the January 2013 inspection at Sterilite's plastics manufacturing facility in Birmingham as part of its National Emphasis Program on Amputations and regional emphasis program to limit worker exposure to high noise levels. Proposed penalties total $49,000.
"Employers have the responsibility for ensuring that employees are provided safe and healthy working conditions, including both full-time and temporary workers," said Ramona Morris, director of OSHA's Birmingham Area Office. "Hazards need to be addressed proactively by developing and implementing effective safety and health programs."
The inspection found that Sterilite exposed workers to several hazards, including dangerous, unguarded machinery and fall hazards because of missing platform railings. Additionally, the employer exposed workers to noise hazards above the required OSHA limits; failed to ensure workers used hearing protection correctly; to provide hearing protection based on the noise level to which workers were exposed; and to notify and provide follow-up care to workers who experienced a work-related hearing loss. 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 serious violations carry $42,000 in monetary penalties.
Sterilite was cited for six additional safety violations with no monetary penalty assessed.
The Massachusetts-based company employs approximately 2,000 employees nationwide. The Alabama facility employs approximately 316 workers.
OSHA inspectors found that temporary workers employed by Marathon Staffing Corp. at Sterilite's facility were also exposed to hazards. As a result, OSHA cited Marathon for one serious health violation, carrying a penalty of $7,000, because the staffing agency failed to administer an effective hearing conservation program for occupational noise exposure. Marathon has a contract with Sterilite to provide temporary inspectors and packers at Sterilite facilities. With headquarters in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts, Marathon employs more than 500 workers nationwide, and approximately 90 workers in its Alabama office. Marathon provides labor and management of the on-site workforce.
In April 2013, OSHA announced an initiative to improve workplace safety and health for temporary workers. During the inspection, OSHA inspectors paid special attention to the hazards facing temporary workers to determine the role of the host employer and the staffing agency in failing to eliminate serious hazards.
The companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference 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 agency's Birmingham Area Office at 205-731-1534.
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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