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OSHA fines New York recycler for heat-related death

Legislation & Regulations

Cooper Tank Recycling hit with eight health and safety violations.

CDR Staff February 5, 2014

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Cooper Tank & Welding Corp., dba Cooper Tank Recycling, for eight serious health and safety violations following the heat-related death of an employee at its Brooklyn, N.Y., recycling facility.

Kay Gee, OSHA’s area director for Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, N.Y., says, "This was a needless and preventable loss of life. This employer failed to train workers and implement safeguards that could have protected them from excessive heat conditions. Workers were also exposed to potentially fatal injuries from falls, electrocution and unguarded operating machine parts."

On July 19, 2013, the worker, who later suffered from heat illness and died, had been working for several hours on a conveyor line, sorting and recycling construction and demolition debris. Workers were exposed to excessive ambient heat stemming from environmental sources and the heat generated by recycling machinery, according to OSHA. The agency’s investigation found that the company failed to inform and train workers on the recognition, prevention and treatment of heat-related illnesses and did not provide temperature controls in the work area or implement a work/rest regimen.

OSHA found workers exposed to falls of 20 to 40 feet due to unguarded wall openings, missing guardrails and lack of fall protection equipment; electrocution hazards from an ungrounded electrical outlet and power cord; and lacerations and amputations from unguarded grinders. As a result, eight serious citations were issued.

The citations can be viewed at www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/CooperTankHealth.pdf and www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/CooperTankSafety.pdf.

The company, which faces $40,500 in fines, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


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