OSHA Cites N.J. Company for Hazards

December 3, 2004

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Star Manufacturing Inc., Little Ferry, N.J., for alleged safety and health violations. Star Manufacturing makes a variety of plastic products, including kitchen utensils and electrical wiring enclosures, and employs 110 workers.

“Strong enforcement is a key part of this Administration’s effort to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao. “The significant penalty of $229,050 in this case demonstrates our commitment to protecting the health and safety of American workers.”

OSHA initiated an investigation on May 25, 2004 in response to a referral made by the Little Ferry police department alleging that an employee suffered amputated fingers after an accident on a press machine that occurred the day before. The investigation resulted in citations for six alleged willful violations, with a penalty of $200,000; 15 alleged serious violations, with a penalty of $29,050; and two alleged other-than-serious violations, which carry no penalty.

Willful citations were issued due to the company’s failure to establish a “lockout/tagout” program to prevent an inadvertent machine start-up; failure to develop and maintain a hazard communication program for employees who work with hazardous chemicals; failure to guard machinery; and failure to cover unused openings containing live electrical parts.

The serious citations address the company’s failure to guard machinery; to protect employees exposed to an open-sided platform; to keep electrical equipment free from recognized hazards; and to institute a hearing conservation program and provide personal protective equipment. The other-than-serious citations were issued for allowing employees to eat in areas exposed to toxic materials and unsanitary bathrooms.

Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. Serious violations are those in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The company has 15 working days from the receipt of the citations to decide to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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