Login Register Subscribe
Current Issue

Manufacturer blames OSHA fine for layoffs

Reprints

A New Jersey aluminum manufacturer said more than $2 million in U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration safety violation fines forced it to lay off 13% of its staff, according to a press statement issued Tuesday. 

OSHA announced in July that it had again cited Camden County-based Aluminum Shapes, a company it said has a long history of noncompliance with OSHA standards, for 51 safety and health violations found in a January inspection. The proposed penalties of $1,922,895 are on top of the $516,753 in penalties since 2011, according to a press statement. 

"In 2015, our investigation found 44 safety violations at Aluminum Shapes' facility including amputation hazards related to the lack of machine guarding,” said Paula Dixon-Roderick, director of OSHA's Marlton (New Jersey) Area Office, in a 2016 announcement on a separate fine regarding violations related to two amputations and other injuries. “This employer has taken no action to protect its workers and serious and senseless injuries are the result. This is unacceptable.” 

Aluminum Shapes says the fines caused the company to lay off 51 of its 367 unionized employees and 10 of its front office staff, including four managers, according to the company’s press announcement.

“The size of OSHA’s fine as it stands today has forced the company to take these extreme measures,” said a company spokesperson in a statement. “We have grown the employee count from 376 in January 2015 to 480 in June 2017. Now, we are being forced to undo that growth.

“We care deeply about the safety of our employees. As part of our ongoing facility improvements, we’ve invested time and money toward safer production processes and equipment. In addition to our regular safety (Total Productive Maintenances) to keep our facility in code, we devoted thousands of man hours toward training and installing guards and other essential safety measures,” a company spokesperson said in the release. 

Aluminum Shapes is the process of challenging the citations and fine, the release states. “We have made visible and dramatic safety improvements, and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves,” the spokesperson said.