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Inadequate employee safeguards at a Buffalo, N.Y., industrial laundry have resulted in a total of $77,125 in proposed fines from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Sodexo Inc. was cited for 13 alleged repeat and serious violations of safety and health standards following OSHA inspections at the 60 Grider Street location begun in January 2008 in response to employee complaints.
"These citations address employees' exposure to a variety of hazards including falls, burns, electrocution, explosions, confined spaces, respiratory hazards, bloodborne pathogens, lack of personal protective equipment and being caught in unguarded or unexpectedly energized driers and other machinery," said Arthur Dube, OSHA's area director in Buffalo. "It is of paramount importance that these conditions be addressed effectively and quickly."
OSHA issued six repeat citations, carrying $63,100 in proposed fines, for the lack of procedures and training to prevent the unexpected startup of dryers and other equipment while employees were working on them; accumulations of dust, lint and debris on work surfaces or in work areas; using an electrical extension cord in place of permanent wiring; no bloodborne pathogen training for employees exposed to contaminated clothing and sharp instruments; and no log for recording injuries from sharp instruments.
A repeat citation is issued when an employer has previously been cited for similar hazards and those citations have become final. In this case, the repeat citations stem from citations issued in 2005 and 2006 for Sodexo facilities in Pittsburgh; Cleveland; and Portland, Maine.
The Buffalo laundry was also issued seven serious citations, with $14,025 in fines, for unguarded open pits and runways; unguarded moving conveyor parts; failure to identify and label confined spaces; lack of personal protective equipment; using an electrical conduit cover as a walkway; and inadequate respiratory protection. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
"Sodexo believes that nothing is more important than the safety of all of our employees," said John T. Friedman, the senior manager of public relations for Sodexo. "We are working closely with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to ensure that the facility meets all regulatory and safety standards for the industry. We are pleased to report that we resolved many of the concerns immediately (during the inspection) and all of them have now been addressed."