OSHA Cites Mass. Recycler Following Fatality

August 26, 2005

The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Southbridge Recycling Disposal Park Inc., Southbridge, Massachusetts for 17 alleged serious violations of safety and health standards. The citations follow the March 18 death of a worker who was caught and crushed in a large conveyor belt. OSHA has proposed $44,600 in fines against the company.

OSHA’s inspection reportedly found that the conveyor’s power source had not been locked out to prevent it from starting while employees adjusted it. In addition, employees were insufficiently trained and equipped to perform lockout procedures, the conveyor and other machinery were not guarded against employee contact with their moving parts and the company’s lockout/tagout program had not been reviewed to determine that procedures were being effectively followed.

The inspection also identified several other safety and health hazards. These included employees exposed to excess noise levels, lack of hearing protection and audiometric testing for workers exposed to noise, an inadequate confined space entry program, electrical hazards, no written control plan for employees exposed to bloodborne pathogens and failure to supply the Hepatitis B vaccine to employees exposed to bloodborne pathogens.

“If employees had been properly trained and equipped to perform lockout procedures, this accident would have been prevented,” said Ronald Morin, OSHA’s area director for central and western Massachusetts. “Left uncorrected, the other hazards we found expose workers to potentially fatal injuries and illnesses, including crushing, lacerations, bloodborne pathogens, hearing loss and electrocution. All these issues must be addressed, and addressed effectively, by this employer.”

OSHA defines a serious violation as a condition for which there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result to an employee.

Southbridge Recycling Disposal Park has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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