SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited a Watertown, N.Y., industrial laundry for alleged repeat and serious violations of safety and health standards, and for failing to correct hazards cited during previous OSHA inspections.
Atlas Health Care Linen Services faces a total of $163,200 in proposed fines.
In November 2006, OSHA cited the plant – then known as Northern Health Care Linen Services – for a variety of safety and health hazards. The company agreed to correct all hazards and pay a $39,980 fine, according to OSHA, and the latest citations and fines result from follow-up inspections that began June 8 to verify the earlier cited hazards had been corrected.
“Several conditions that were cited during the 2006 inspections occurred again or were not corrected in the first place,” says Christopher Adams, OSHA’s area director in Syracuse. “It is critical to the health and safety of employees at this facility that all items be addressed and abated promptly, effectively and permanently.”
“The company does not agree with all the findings in the inspection and will rebut them when it meets with OSHA,” Atlas Health Care Linen Services says in a prepared statement e-mailed to American Laundry News. “All the citations OSHA brought up were quickly and completely addressed by the company, whether the company agreed with the validity of the citations or not.”
Details of the citations, according to OSHA, are:
• Three failure-to-abate notices were issued for failure to supply the hepatitis B vaccine to employees within 10 days of exposure to bloodborne pathogens, develop and maintain a log of injuries, and guard a spoke pulley against employee contact. A failure-to-abate notice is issued when an employer has agreed to correct specific hazards cited by OSHA inspectors and then doesn’t do so. These notices carry $112,500 in fines.
• Three repeat citations, accounting for $37,700 in fines, were issued for an unguarded rooftop work area, inadequate guarding of folder machines and the use of a flexible electric cord in place of permanent wiring. In this case, the company had been cited for substantially similar hazards in the 2006 inspections.
• Four serious violations were issued for an unguarded floor hole, failing to clean contaminated surfaces and a soiled-linen conveyor, lack of hazard communication training for employees, and incomplete lockout/tagout procedures to prevent machinery from functioning while employees performed maintenance. Proposed fines total $13,000.
“OSHA issued a press release after their first inspection in 2006, which suggested there were serious citations that they predicted would result in significant fines,” the Atlas statement continues. “After several meetings between the company and OSHA, those initial citations and fines were reduced considerably.
“The company believes that the current list of citations and fines will also be drastically reduced once the company has had the opportunity to review the documents, meet with OSHA and fully explain its safety program.”
Atlas has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to request and participate in an informal conference with OSHA or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.