N.J.: OSHA Cites Employers for Safety Violations

By Diane Cadrain Jun 10, 2015

The U. S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on May 28, 2015, cited Magnetic Metals Corporation, in Camden, for a total of 15 workplace safety violations, including three repeat offenses. The company manufactures soft magnetic materials for products including motors and transformers.

The violations involved the failure to place devices on machinery to prevent its sudden startup or movement during service and maintenance. The proposed penalty is $53,900.

The agency started investigating Magnetic Metals in December, 2014, as part of its program of targeting industries with high rates of injuries and illnesses.

“During the servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment, the unexpected startup or release of stored energy can kill or cause serious injuries to employees,” said Paula Dixon-Roderick, director of OSHA's Marlton Area Office. “Employers need to take the appropriate steps to ensure that workers are protected from this type of hazard.”

Earlier in the year, on April 1, 2015, OSHA cited Bednar Landscape Services, in Boonton, after a trench cave-in killed two workers last fall. The company provides landscape, excavation and snow removal services throughout northern New Jersey. The proposed penalty is $77,000.

The employees were working in a trench nine to 13 feet deep with no cave-in protection. OSHA found Bednar responsible for one willful and nine serious safety violations. The serious violations included failure to place ladders in the trenches every 25 feet, failure to have the trenches inspected, and failure to provide head protection. The willful violation was due to the trench neither being adequately sloped nor protected by shields or shoring.

“One cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a small car when a trench caves-in or collapses,” said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA's Parsippany Area Office. “Without the required protections, these men had no way to escape and their heartbroken families are left to make sense of a needless tragedy. Bednar management placed its employees in mortal danger by not using cave-in protections, and we believe these managers were plainly indifferent to the serious dangers their workers faced.”

"Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. The fact that two workers are killed each month in trench collapses underscores how important cave-in protections are,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA regional administrator in New York. “An unprotected trench can be a death trap and should never be entered. There are several ways to protect people who work in trenches, and trenches should be inspected at the start of each shift and as needed throughout the work day by trained professionals.”

Diane Cadrain is an attorney who has been writing about employment law issues for more than 20 years.

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