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OSHA slams laundry business with safety fines amid worker death

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A New Jersey-based commercial laundry company is facing more than $305,000 in fines proposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration related to ongoing workplace safety violations that contributed to the death of a 24-year-old employee.

The administration inspected Lyndhurst, New Jersey-based Prestige Industries L.L.C.'s facility in Paterson, New Jersey in March after receiving a complaint and found that employees in that facility faced hazards similar to the company's Bay Shore, New York facility, where the unidentified employee died in 2011, the agency said in a statement on Wednesday.

Some examples of the similar hazards include the absence of lockout/tagout procedures, which prevent the accidental start-up and movement of machinery, and which led OSHA to issue a willful violation for the Paterson facility, according to the administration.

The agency also cited the company for three repeated violations for failure to train employees on the purpose and function of an energy control program, provide machine guarding and affix lockout/tagout devices on machinery, according to the citations. Five serious safety and health violations were issued for unsafe exit routes, electrical hazards and the absence of a written respiratory protection program, among other alleged violations, according to the citations.

OSHA has proposed fines totaling $305,300, according to the statement.

“It is unacceptable when a company continues to neglect basic safety and health procedures, especially after experiencing a fatality,” Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York, said in the statement. “Prestige Industries' deliberate failure to uphold its responsibility to provide a safe and healthful workplace is an indication that worker safety and health is not a priority, which is intolerable. Without an effective, comprehensive injury and illness prevention program that evaluates, identifies and eliminates hazards proactively, Prestige's employees will remain at risk of injury or death.”

In 2013, the administration cited the company for four repeat and five serious safety violations at its North Bergen, New Jersey facility and proposed $219,000 in fines related to that October 2012 investigation, according to a separate statement.

A company official declined to comment.