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OSHA hits New York recycler for safety violations

A New York recycling company has been hit hard by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for alleged violations of workplace safety regulations.

The Buffalo company was issued citations totaling $65,000 this week following an investigation of an October 2010 workplace injury incident in which a worker's arm was "severely lacerated" when a supervisor reportedly turned on a conveyor belt the employee was trying to clear of a paper jam.

An OSHA spokesperson said, "These citations illustrate two primary workplace safety and health concerns: traumatic injury from being caught in machinery that wasn't properly shut down and locked out, and potential exposure to disease from inadequate precautions against blood and sharps."

Not only was the worker's arm severely injured in the incident, but employees who cleaned up the blood after the incident weren't protected from blood-borne pathogens that can infect people with hepatitis B and other health hazards.

OSHA requires workers exposed to human blood to be equipped with gloves, gowns, eye protection and masks and to be given training in how to properly clean up and dispose of potentially tainted blood.

In the Buffalo case, the company received 10 citations totaling $60,000 for offenses deemed serious. A serious violation involves the "substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known," according to OSHA.

In addition, the company received five citations for violations OSHA deemed as "other than serious." These were for alleged noise violations and incomplete illness and injury logs.

Source: OSHA: "US Labor Department's OSHA cites Buffalo, NY, recycler": April 26, 2011

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