A New Jersey company was recently cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for exposing their workers to risk of amputation and other health hazards. The company faces over $90,000 in OSHA penalties.
Film Pak Extrusion LLC manufactures do-it-yourself supplies for contractors under the name Frost King, and the products are sold in stores like Home Depot and Lowes.
OSHA began its investigation of the company's manufacturing facility in Paterson, New Jersey in February 2014 and cited the facility for 1 willful and 12 serious workplace violations.
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When an employer is cited for a willful violation, this means the employer intentionally or voluntarily disregarded OSHA's requirements and regulations. The willful violation is alleged to have involved the lack of required guards for the machines at the facility pursuant to OSHA regulations.
Lack of required guards may cause machine operators to sustain injuries such as crushed fingers/hands or amputations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 9,000 workers in New Jersey were injured in the manufacturing industry in 2011.
Section 1910.212(a)(3) of the OSHA standards relates to point of operation guarding, i.e., where guarding should be used on industrial machines, and it provides:
1910.212(a)(3)(i) Point of operation is the area on a machine where work is actually performed upon the material being processed.
1910.212(a)(3)(ii) The point of operation of machines whose operation exposes an employee to injury, shall be guarded. The guarding device shall be in conformity with any appropriate standards therefor, or, in the absence of applicable specific standards, shall be so designed and constructed as to prevent the operator from having any part of his body in the danger zone during the operating cycle.
Though a New Jersey machine operator injured while operating a machine at work cannot sue their employer for injuries under New Jersey workers' compensation law, they may be able to sue the employer if the employer committed an intentional wrong/act. This means the employer knew that the consequences of his act were substantially certain to result in harm, but did it anyway. In this type of situation, the injured worker may be able to sue their employer.
If a worker was injured at the above cited manufacturing facility in Paterson, NJ, it can be argued that the employer removed a safety device (machine guards), knowing that it was substantially certain to result in injury to workers. Therefore, the employer committed an intentional wrong, and an injured machine operator may have a viable personal injury lawsuit against the employer.
It is a good idea to talk to a work accident lawyer in New Jersey after sustaining injuries while at work. Depending on the circumstances and facts, injured workers such as machine operators may have other claims beyond workers' comp claims.
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