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OSHA cites recycler after employees injured in sorter

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The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited and proposed $119,000 in penalties against a New York recycling facility following a workplace safety incident that seriously injured three employees.

OSHA cited Cutchogue, New York-based Peconic Recycling & Transfer Corp. for one willful and 11 serious violations of workplace safety standards following the July 2015 incident in which three employees cleaning screens inside a cylindrical waste sorting device called a trommel were seriously injured when another employee unexpectedly restarted the machine, the agency said Monday in a statement.

Inspectors found the company lacked specific written procedures to lock out machines' power sources to prevent their unintended startup and a program to manage employees' work in confined spaces safely, and failed to train employees to protect themselves against these hazards, according to the statement.

The company also put its employees at risk of falls of more than 16 feet through uncovered or unguarded sorting bin openings on a conveyor belt, according to the agency.

“This incident and serious injuries suffered by three employees were preventable,” Anthony Ciuffo, OSHA's area director for Long Island, said in a statement. “The company knew programs needed to be in place to address and prevent these hazards, yet did not provide required and adequate safeguards.”

A company spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.