TARRYTOWN, N.Y. -- Ferdo Refrigeration Equipment Inc., a Bronx, N.Y., company that refurbishes commercial refrigerators, faces an additional $108,080 in fines from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, chiefly for not correcting specific workplace safety and health hazards cited during previous inspections at the workplace located at 429 Devoe Ave.
'Employees continued to be exposed to fire, explosion, falls and chemical hazards and to being unable to exit the workplace swiftly in an emergency,' said Diana Cortez, OSHA's area director for Bronx, Westchester and Rockland counties. 'The large, additional proposed fines stem directly from this employer's refusal to address these potentially life-threatening hazards. Employers must understand that ignoring OSHA citations and fines carries consequences, even beyond finances. The health and well-being of their employees are at stake.'
OSHA's Tarrytown Area Office cited the company in April 2013 for 15 serious safety and health violations and proposed $16,447 in fines. Ferdo Refrigeration Equipment did not respond to the citations and to OSHA's repeat attempts to contact the company to verify correction of hazards. As a result, OSHA opened a follow-up inspection in May.
The eight uncorrected hazards include failing to provide a guardrail to prevent falls from an open-sided floor; ensure an exit did not discharge to a public way; mark emergency exits; provide explosion-proof wiring and equipment for areas where flammable gases or vapors are present; develop a written chemical hazard communication program; and provide training and safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals used in the workplace. Eight failure-to-abate notices, carrying $80,080 in fines, were issued for these conditions. A failure-to-abate notice applies to a condition, hazard or practice for which the employer was originally cited, and upon reinspection, was found to have not corrected.
Three repeat citations, with $8,800 in fines, involve failing to ensure to keep an exit route unobstructed, maintain walls and work surfaces free of combustible residue accumulation, and to provide respirator users with information and medical evaluations. A repeat violation exists when an employer has been cited previously for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any of its facilities in federal enforcement states within the last five years.
Twelve serious citations, with $19,200 in fines, were issued for newly identified hazards, including failing to provide chemical-resistant coveralls, gloves, protective eyewear and suitable drenching facilities for workers exposed to methylene chloride, paint overspray or corrosive liquids; monitor for methylene chloride; have fire extinguishers where flammable liquids are sprayed; secure compressed gas cylinders; provide protective footwear; and address forklift, machine guarding and electrical hazards. A serious violation occurs 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.
The citations and failure-to-abate notices can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/FERDO_safety.pdf* and http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/FERDO_health.pdf.*
Ferdo Refrigeration Equipment has 15 business days from receipt of its latest citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Tarrytown Area Office at 914-524-7510.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.