OAKLAND, Calif., May 23, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --The California Department of Industrial Relations' (DIR) Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) yesterday issued 36 citations totaling $38,895 in penalties to American Reclamation, Inc., a solid waste company in Los Angeles, its recycling subsidiary, South Coast Fibers, Inc. and their staffing agency, Steno Employment Services, Inc.
Cal/OSHA's investigation was triggered last November by a complaint from a Southern California advocacy group about unsafe conditions workers had reported.
"This serves as a reminder to all California employers that ensuring the safety of your workers is essential," said DIR Director Christine Baker. "We stand ready to investigate complaints and enforce workplace safety laws."
One of the citations issued to American Reclamation, Inc., and two to South Coast Fibers, Inc., were for violations of Cal/OSHA standards on confined space entry procedures. Cal/OSHA has a special focus on confined space hazards this year to prevent worker deaths and serious injuries. Last year, seven workers died in California workplaces, succumbing when they entered confined spaces without an appropriate written plan, adequate training and supervision.
"Our investigation confirmed a number of serious risks to workers in the recycling industry," said Cal/OSHA Chief Ellen Widess. "Workers need to be trained on the hazards they face, and employers should have adequate safety programs in place to prevent serious injuries and illnesses. We appreciate the work of advocacy groups that educate workers on their rights and assist in bringing these kinds of workplace safety hazards to our attention so that we can do our job protecting workers."
Cal/OSHA issued five serious violations, including: a failure to follow a written program to prevent workers' entry into machinery before the energy is shut off, an unsafe work platform raised on a fork lift, and various unguarded pieces of machinery that could lead to amputations and other serious injuries.
The investigation also revealed multiple violations for the three employers which included no permit-required confined space entry programs, no heat illness prevention training, no drinking water for drivers and helpers in the field, and an inadequate injury and illness prevention program.
A serious violation is cited when there is a reasonable possibility that death or serious physical harm could result from the actual hazard created by the violation. A general violation is one in which an accident or illness may result but would probably not cause death or serious harm.
American Reclamation, Inc. is a solid waste company headquartered in Los Angeles that operates refuse collection trucks in Los Angeles County and delivers the waste to landfills. South Coast Fibers, Inc. purchases, processes and markets all recyclables such as cardboard boxes, glass, metal, plastic and paper. Steno Employment Services, Inc. provides workers' compensation insurance and payroll services to both companies.
Cal/OSHA has posted extensive information about confined space hazards on its website www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/confinedspace. These materials include a webinar for employers and employees on hazards and safe work practices.
Employers and employees can learn more about Cal/OSHA regulations and how to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses by checking the DIR website. For more information on Cal/OSHA's heat illness prevention requirements and training materials, please visit Cal/OSHA's Heat Illness web page, or the "Water Rest Shade" campaign site at www.99calor.org/campaign.
Cal/OSHA's Consultation Unit ((800) 963-9424) provides free information and training on occupational safety and health hazards and ways to protect workers from heat illness, confined space hazards and other workplace hazards. Consultation Services' offices throughout the state are posted on Cal/OSHA's website.
Employees with work-related questions or complaints, including heat illness, may call the California Workers' Information Hotline at (866) 924-9757.
SOURCE California Department of Industrial Relations, Cal/OSHA