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Unifirst could be fined $186,000 for 'willful,' 'serious' safety violations at plant


WEST CALDWELL, N.J.—A Massachusetts-based uniform and laundry services company could be forced to pay $186,000 for a number of “serious” and “willful” safety and health violations at one of its facilities, according to federal workplace safety officials.

Wilmington, Mass.-based Unifirst Corp. allegedly failed to provide hepatitis B vaccinations and proper training, engineering and work practice controls to minimize workers’ exposure to blood-borne pathogens at its West Caldwell, N.J., facility, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said in a statement released Friday.

The alleged violations were classified by OSHA as “willful” infractions, as they were committed knowingly or in plain disregard for the law.

The company also failed to address several other safety hazards at the plant, including a locked emergency door, lead-contaminated surfaces, failure to provide safety gloves to workers and inadequate training in the use of fire extinguishers. OSHA classified those violations as “serious” because there is “substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.”

Workers’ health, safety compromised

“The violations at this facility compromise the safety and health of UniFirst's workers,” Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA's Parsippany Area Office in New Jersey, said in the agency’s statement. “It is vital that the company take appropriate steps to eliminate all identified hazards.”

UniFirst will have 15 days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA or contest the charges before an independent review commission.