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Region 2 News Release: 11-522-NEW/BOS 2011-137
April 18, 2011
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2074
E-mail: fitzgerald.edmund@dol.gov

US Labor Department's OSHA cites Johnstown, NY, leather finisher
for 20 safety and health hazards following worker injury

ALBANY, N.Y. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Pearl Leather Finishing Inc. for 20 alleged violations of workplace health and safety standards at its Johnstown plant. The company, which supplies finished and cut leather products, was cited following an October 2010 incident in which an employee's hand became caught in an embossing press.

OSHA's inspection found that the press lacked adequate guarding which would have prevented workers from coming in contact with its point of operation. The inspection also identified several other instances of unguarded or inadequately guarded machinery as well as a lack of procedures, tools and training to ensure that machines were shut down and their power sources locked out before employees performed maintenance on them.

"This case is a stark example of the devastating consequences to workers when adequate machine guarding is absent," said Edward Jerome, OSHA's area director in Albany. "Had the press been effectively guarded this injury would not have occurred. Pearl Leather Finishing must take complete, prompt and effective action to correct these hazards and prevent them from recurring."

Additional hazards identified during the inspection included lack of a hazard assessment to determine personal protective equipment needed by workers, lack of protective eyewear, lack of a written respirator program and medical evaluations, blocked fire extinguisher access, lack of a chemical hazard communication program, electrical hazards, a fall hazard, lack of a load rating for an overhead storage area and excess pressure for a compressed air hose. OSHA issued 19 serious citations for the violations, with $104,400 in proposed fines. 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 company also was issued one other than serious citation, with a fine of $900, for inaccurately recording an injury. 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.

"A key tool in addressing and preventing hazards such as these is for employers to establish an injury and illness prevention program through which workers and management work together on an ongoing basis to identify and eliminate hazardous conditions in the workplace," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

Pearl Leather has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Albany Area Office; telephone 518-464-4338. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

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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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.


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