Unfortunately, unsafe working conditions often exist in our own backyard. Again and again, employers are placing their workers at a greater risk of sustaining workplace injuries in order to protect their bottom line.
Toxco Inc., a battery recycling company with locations in Lancaster and Baltimore, Ohio, was recently issued heavy fines for serious safety violations by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This means that the employer should have known that death or serious physical harm could result from the potential hazards at the workplace.
This was not the first time Toxco has been cited for safety violations. In 2003, the Baltimore plant was issued citations for six violations. It is estimated that penalties of at least $59,400 will be levied against the company for these most recent safety violations.
Some of the violations include failing to protect workers from overexposure to lead and cadmium. The workers at the plants involved had reportedly been exposed to lead up to eight times the permissible limit and cadmium up to two times the permissible limit.
These dangerous exposure levels could lead to very serious and possibly irreversible health consequences. If an individual becomes ill as a result of overexposure to chemicals in the workplace, medical care and expenses will be provided by the Ohio workers’ compensation system as well as other benefits.
The OSHA investigation was conducted under a new program that targets industries with high injury and illness rates. It is extremely important for any individual who has knowledge of a potentially hazardous condition at his or her workplace to alert the proper agencies so that an investigation can be conducted.
In addition, it is important to determine if any precautions could have been taken by the employer to prevent the injury from occurring. In this case, the plant was also cited for failing to install adequate controls in the workplace to monitor exposure levels among the workers.
However, whether or not an employer’s negligence causes a workplace accident, an injured employee may file a workers’ compensation claim to receive benefits to pay for his or her medical and other related expenses.
Source: Norwalk Reflector, “Company faces $60,000 in fines for OSHA violations at Ohio plant,” July 10, 2012