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Two injuries at aluminum facility lead to $1.9 million in fines

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A New Jersey-based aluminum manufacturer is facing $1.9 million in proposed penalties by federal workplace safety regulators after two employees were hospitalized in separate incidents. 

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Delair, New Jersey-based Aluminum Shapes L.L.C. has “a long history of noncompliance with OSHA standards,” according to an agency statement issued on Friday. The agency has inspected the company’s facility eight times since 2011, cited the employer for 60 violations and assessed $516,753 in penalties, according to the statement. 

OSHA cited the manufacturer again following a January inspection that found 51 safety and health violations and proposed penalties of $1.9 million after learning of the two hospitalizations, in which one employee was treated for chemical injuries and another suffered a broken pelvis after being caught between the unguarded moving parts of a metal fabrication machine. 

The agency issued willful citations for failing to provide appropriate personal protective equipment, conduct air monitoring prior to and have an attendant present during permit-required confined space entry, and train employees in and use proper lockout/tagout procedures, among other willful violations, according to the citations. OSHA also cited the company for repeat violations, including fall hazards, lack of stair rails and machine guarding, and electrical hazards; serious citations for inadequate ladders, inappropriate respiratory and hearing protection, insufficient entry permits, and lack of machine guarding and hazardous chemical training; and other-than-serious violations including failure to record each injury on its injury log.

“Aluminum Shapes’ extensive list of violations reflects a workplace that does not prioritize worker safety and health,” Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York, said in a statement. “The company can more effectively protect its workers by implementing a comprehensive safety and health management system.”

“Aluminum Shapes L.L.C. takes the safety of its facility extremely seriously,” a spokesman said in an emailed statement. 

Prior to OSHA’s findings, the company had tripled the number of safety professionals, hired an OSHA specialist to help guide its compliance efforts and added a safety professional to its management team, according to the statement.  

“We have been diligent in addressing the issues OSHA cited in past inspections,” the spokesman said. “The vast majority of the issues raised in these past inspections were addressed before OSHA’s latest visit. The investments we have made in the facility — from the millions of dollars we have put toward safety improvements to the new equipment that is safer and more efficient — are working. However, OSHA’s new fee structure results in higher fine amounts and unfair media attention even as conditions improve.”