Massachusetts recycling facility cited after workers injured

Employers in Massachusetts should do what they can to keep their workers safe. At the very least, they must follow state and federal regulations regarding workplace safety and health. Businesses that don’t follow the regulations could end up with injured workers, fines or both.

This week, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced that it cited a Massachusetts recycling company for 10 serious violations of workplace safety standards after two employees were injured in a workplace accident.

Apparently, the accident took place in September as company employees were performing maintenance work inside a large rotating drum used to sort recycling materials when the drum activated and injured the workers.

OSHA conducted an inspection at the Everett, Massachusetts, facility following the incident, and identified several safety deficiencies.

One problem was with the facility’s procedures for ensuring machines are deactivated and inoperable before employees perform maintenance work. OSHA reported that the procedures were incomplete and not clearly understood by employees.

Another problem OSHA found was that employees had not been properly trained to work in confined spaces like the drum involved in the accident. Additionally, workers had not received a hot work permit before doing welding work on the drum.

Finally, the drum posed a falling hazard to employees, OSHA found. OSHA has proposed penalties totaling $70,000 against Prolerized New England Co. LLC, also known as Schnitzer Northeast.

“The unexpected startup of machinery during maintenance can injure or kill workers in seconds,” OSHA’s area director for Essex and Middlesex counties said. “Preventing this hazard requires a combination of effective hazard control procedures, training and diligence to ensure that the proper safeguards are in place, in use and understood by workers.”

Source: U.S. Dept. of Labor News Release, “US Labor Department’s OSHA proposes $70,000 in fines against Everett, Mass., recycling company after workers injured by rotating equipment,” Jan. 11, 2012