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Green jobs and workplace safety: OSHA's role

There is broad agreement in American society that recycling is important. Indeed, it is becoming more important by the day, as part of the quest to reduce our environmental footprint. As part of this quest, policy makers talk frequently of creating "green jobs."

But it is also important that green jobs be reasonably safe, and this includes jobs in the recycling industry. When injuries do occur, workers' compensation be available to those are injured.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plays an important role in making sure employers provide the necessary protections. In a recent Pennsylvania case, OSHA took action against an oil recycling operation in New Castle.

OSHA found that that Vortex Recycling Inc. had committed numerous safety violations at the New Castle facility. After receiving a complaint, OSHA investigated the facility and eventually determined that a proposed penalty of $58,000 would be appropriate.

One of the violations OSHA found was a repeat violation for failing to remove from service industrial trucks that were defective or had become unsafe. The agency issued a citation for this violation.

OSHA also found a host of hazards that constituted serious violations. These included problems with exposure to electrical hazards, dangers of falls, deficient cranes and failure to protect employees' hearing.

By definition, a serious violation occurs when a hazard creates a substantial probability of death or serious harm to employees, and the employer knew or should have known about the hazard. Under OSHA procedures, the company has 15 business days to respond to the government's proposed action.

It is important to remember that these procedures in order to protect the safety of employees in the workplace. And that workers' comp exists to help those who do suffer injuries.

Source: "OSHA Fines Pennsylvania Recycler," Recycling Today, 11-6-12

Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Pennsylvania workers' compensation page.

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