New Jersey- Nearly one-third of the employers in the state hit with initial safety violation fines of $40K or more are government agencies. But many cases are settled for lesser amounts.
New Jersey employers have been hit with at least $16.6 million in fines since 2015 for having unsafe workplaces and conditions.
Fines levied by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration against employers in the state over the past five years peaked in 2017. In 2017, the federal agency levied more than $4.9 million in fines against at least 60 companies.
All told, the Network reviewed OSHA data of more than 200 enforcement cases with initial penalties of $40,000 and higher. Data for enforcement cases with penalties less than $40,000 were not available.
Most of the reviewed cases involved private employers. However, almost 30% of the penalties involved local, state or federal government agencies, the Network’s analysis shows. The initial penalties in those cases totaled more than $4 million.
The Network ‘s ranking of the data is based on the initial penalties OSHA levied against employers, not the final amount paid. Many of the cases the Network reviewed are still under appeal. Employers frequently enter into settlement agreements with OSHA for reduced penalties that require the employer to address the agency’s safety concerns.
For contractors and companies to avoid such fines, proper training and up-to-date standards practiced is essential.
Lyndhurst, NJ – Prestige Industries LLC of Lyndhurst (NJ) is being cited for nine violations related to worker safety and health at its facility in Paterson (NJ) where the company launders fabrics for the hotel industry, and faces proposed fines of $305,000. These fines and violations are similar to those found after an employee death in 2011.
OSHA received a complaint from a Prestige employee. Upon investigation, the agency determined that employees in the facility faced hazards similar to those previously found at its Bay Shore, N.Y., location, where a 24-year-old worker was caught in an unguarded conveyor-belt machine and crushed to death in 2011.
“It is unacceptable when a company continues to neglect basic safety and health procedures, especially after experiencing a fatality,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York. “Prestige Industries’ deliberate failure to uphold its responsibility to provide a safe and healthful workplace is an indication that worker safety and health is not a priority.”
OSHA cited the Prestige for one willful violation for lack of lockout/tagout procedures, which prevent the accidental start-up or movement of machinery; three repeated violations that include failure to train employees on the purpose and function of an energy-control program; failure to provide machine guarding and failure to provide lockout/tagout devices on machinery; and five serious safety and health violations that include unsafe exit routes, electrical hazards and no established respiratory protection program.