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OSHA says New Jersey linen company unsafe for workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed fines totalling $126,875 for a New Jersey linen rental company. OSHA says the company, Gemtex Inc., committed 37 serious and 11 other-than-serious health and safety violations. OSHA inspected the Palmyra facility after receiving a referral from New Jersey's Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health Program.

A violation is categorized as serious when there is a significant likelihood that death or serious personal injury could result from a hazard the employer knows about or should know about. A violation is said to be other-than-serious when it has a direct relationship to job safety and health but likely would not result in death or serious personal injury.

OSHA's area director said the cited safety and health hazards posed serious risks of personal injury to the company's employees and should be dealt with at once. The director pointed out that all employers are legally obligated to establish safe and healthy work environments.

The list of serious violations the company allegedly committed is a long one: failure to provide protection from electrical hazards; failure to develop and implement written respiratory protection, hazard communication and confined space entry programs; failure to provide machine guarding; failure to install guardrails for stairways and working platforms; failure to conduct a personal protective equipment hazard assessment; failure to ensure the safe use of ladders and forklifts; failure to provide lockout/tagout, respirator, hazard communication and fire extinguisher training; failure to install an eyewash station; failure to install mounted fire extinguishers; and failure to make certain that aisles and passageways were clear.

The other-than-serious violations relate to various electrical hazards and the company's incorrectly logging injuries and illness for OSHA's records.

Employers in New Jersey and throughout the nation have a responsibility to provide safe and healthy workplaces for employees. Likewise, it is OSHA's job to write and enforce standards, as well as provide training and education aimed at ensuring that workers are not subject to undue risk on the job.

Source: newswire.com, "OSHA proposes fines to Palmyra, NJ, linen rental company for workplace safety and health hazards," Jan. 11, 2012

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