The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Miskeen Originals LLC for workplace safety and health violations, including employee exposure to methylene chloride. Proposed penalties total $43,150. Miskeen Originals LLC is a clothing manufacturer with 12 employees at the Camden, N.J., location.

OSHA initiated an inspection after receiving an employee complaint alleging workplace safety and health hazards. As a result of the inspection, Miskeen was cited for one willful violation with a penalty of $28,000, 12 serious violations with a $15,150 penalty, and seven other-than-serious violations, which carry no penalty.

"Employees exposed to methylene chloride are at increased risk of developing cancer; adverse effects on the heart, central nervous system and liver; and skin or eye irritation," said Paula Dixon-Roderick, director of OSHA's area office in Marlton, N.J. "These hazards need to be corrected immediately to protect the safety and health of workers at the plant."

The willful violation was due to the company's failure to provide emergency exits free of obstruction and unlocked. A willful violation is one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employees' safety and health.

The serious violations include employee overexposure to methylene, failing to provide personal protective equipment, conduct a personal protective equipment assessment, evaluate respiratory hazards, properly monitor for methylene chloride, conduct medical evaluations for respirators, provide eyewash, train employees on how to use fire extinguishers, establish a regulated area for employees exposed to methylene chloride and implement effective engineering controls. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

Some of the other-than-serious violations include failing to properly record injuries and illnesses, provide a written respirator and hazard communications program, maintain required material safety data sheets for each hazardous chemical at the facility, and failing to ensure that each container of hazardous chemicals was properly identified and labeled. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, meet with the OSHA area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.