US Department of Labor's OSHA fines recycler Greenstar for potentially
exposing workers to bloodborne pathogens
SAN ANTONIO – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued Greenstar Mid-America LLC 10 serious and 10 other-than-serious citations after an inspection found that workers processing trash were not protected against hypodermic needle sticks and other hazards at the company's facility in San Antonio. Proposed penalties total $53,000.
"This company has put its workers' health at risk by potentially exposing them to bloodborne pathogens, such as hepatitis B," said Jeff Funke, director of OSHA's San Antonio Area Office. "In this case, it is fortunate that no evidence suggests any workers have contracted a disease."
OSHA's San Antonio Area Office initiated a safety and health inspection on July 28, 2010, at the company's facility on Cornerway Boulevard, following a complaint that employees were being stuck by hypodermic needles while sorting trash that was to be recycled.
Serious citations allege failure to provide puncture-resistant gloves for handling trash, provide a tie-off point to prevent employees from falling, use lockout/tagout procedures on machinery, provide a fire alarm system, ensure a fire evacuation plan was followed and ensure workers facing exposure to hepatitis B are vaccinated. A serious citation is issued 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 other-than-serious citations allege failure to record injuries within a seven-day period, record restricted days, record days when workers were absent and complete logs with detailed information. 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.
Houston, Texas-based Greenstar is a private national recycling facility that recycles paper, glass and plastic waste from municipal curbside bins. The company, which employs about 145 workers in San Antonio and about 1,000 nationwide, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in San Antonio or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Employers and employees with questions about workplace safety and health standards can call OSHA's San Antonio Area Office at 210-472-5040 or the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) to report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers.
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 assure 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.