Temp & full-time workers exposed to unguarded machinery, other hazards at Ala. factory
OSHA cites Sterilite Corp., staffing agency unsafe conditions
OSHA has cited Sterilite Corp., doing business as Sterilite of Alabama LLC, and Marathon Staffing Corp. Inc., for 13 safety and health violations. OSHA initiated the January 2013 inspection at Sterilite's plastics manufacturing facility in Birmingham as part of its National Emphasis Program on Amputations and regional emphasis program to limit worker exposure to high noise levels. Proposed penalties total $49,000.
The inspection found that Sterilite exposed workers to several hazards, including dangerous, unguarded machinery and fall hazards because of missing platform railings. Additionally, the employer exposed workers to noise hazards above the required OSHA limits; failed to ensure workers used hearing protection correctly; to provide hearing protection based on the noise level to which workers were exposed; and to notify and provide follow-up care to workers who experienced a work-related hearing loss.
The Massachusetts-based company employs approximately 2,000 employees nationwide. The Alabama facility employs approximately 316 workers.
OSHA inspectors found that temporary workers employed by Marathon Staffing Corp. at Sterilite's facility were also exposed to hazards. As a result, OSHA cited Marathon for one serious health violation, carrying a penalty of $7,000, because the staffing agency failed to administer an effective hearing conservation program for occupational noise exposure. Marathon has a contract with Sterilite to provide temporary inspectors and packers at Sterilite facilities. With headquarters in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts, Marathon employs more than 500 workers nationwide, and approximately 90 workers in its Alabama office. Marathon provides labor and management of the on-site workforce.
On its website, Marathon Staffing emphasizes the cost savings of using temporary employees: "We provide exceptional service to our clients with total commitment to quality at competitive rates. We can show you how to save a quarter a million dollars if you utilize more than fifty temporary employees."
In April 2013, OSHA announced an initiative to improve workplace safety and health for temporary workers. During the inspection, OSHA inspectors paid special attention to the hazards facing temporary workers to determine the role of the host employer and the staffing agency in failing to eliminate serious hazards.