The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Importers Service Corporation in Jersey City, N.J., for failing to lock out energy sources and exposing workers during the maintenance and repair of equipment to potential injuries. Proposed penalties total $158,500.

OSHA initiated its inspection on November 10, 2009, as part of its Site-Specific Targeting Program designed for industries with high injury and illness rates. As a result of the inspection, the company has received citations for two willful violations, with a penalty of $98,000; 33 serious violations, with a penalty of $60,500; and one other-than-serious violation, which carries no penalty.

"Each of these violations leaves workers vulnerable to hazards that can result in serious injury and illness," said Phil Peist, director of OSHA's Parsippany Area Office. "The company has a legal obligation to provide a safe and healthful environment for workers."

The willful violations address the company's deficient lockout/tagout system, which is used to control the release of hazardous energy. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.

The serious violations include a lack of training, electrical hazards, inadequate personal protective equipment, failing to implement an adequate hazard communication and respiratory protection program, and failing to properly handle confined spaces. OSHA issues a serious citation when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

"By establishing an effective comprehensive workplace safety and health program that engages employees to proactively evaluate, identify and eliminate hazards, employers are better positioned to prevent workplace hazards," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

Importers Service Corporation, with five previous OSHA inspections, manufactures items used by the food, beverage, pharmaceutical and technical industries, and has 36 employees.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.