Every day, millions of Americans go to work, seeking to provide a better life for themselves and their loved ones. Recently, however, a New Jersey company has been making headlines after it was determined that factory workers were risking their health and safety each day when they came to work.
According to a report published by OSHA.gov, the official website for the United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, New Jersey's own Supreme Oil Co. Inc. has been fined $259,000 for safety and health violations. The news release was published last August, and for those who work for Supreme Oil, and similar manufacturing companies, the effects of health and safety violations are long lasting.
The violations ranged in severity, and more than 30 violations were identified, including one described as "willful," one alleged to be a repeat violation, and 30 that were all categorized as serious, including violations concerning both health and safety. According to the report, the willful violation was due to Supreme Oil's alleged failure to implement procedures to prevent machines from inadvertently starting up. Violations are classified as "willful" when they are "committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health." The single willful violation carries a fine of $70,000.
The repeat violation was related to slippery workroom floors, which the company was cited for in 2012. The serious violations were numerous and were related to the failure to provide unobstructed fire exits, protection against falling near machines, the means to protect employees from excessive noise, protection from carbon monoxide exposure, among others. Violations are classified as "serious" when "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 have a right to a safe and healthy work environment. Such an important responsibility was officially placed upon employers when it became law, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was put in place to set standards and ensure the law is being followed. A regional administrator of the administration stated that successful health and safety programs work best when "management and employees work together to identify and prevent hazardous conditions."
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides a toll-free hotline, 1-800-321-OSHA, where workers and other members of the public can get general information about workplace health and safety regulations and compliance, file complaints against non-compliance, and report dangers, injuries, hospitalizations and fatalities caused by a dangerous work environment.
If you have been injured in the workplace, it is important that you have the counsel of an experienced attorney to guide you through the legal process. Consulting with an attorney regarding health and safety issues in the workplace can not only help provide you with relief, but can help ensure that your fellow workers can benefit when the employer is held responsible and accountable for potential health and safety violations.