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April 15, 2024
Auto recycler to pay $868K OSHA fine following settlement

A Camden, New Jersey, auto recycler and auto parts supplier will pay $868,628 in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) penalties as part of a settlement agreement with the Department of Labor, OSHA announced April 11.

The settlement with Auto Store LLC, which does business as My Auto Store, following litigation was prompted by OSHA’s investigation of the nationwide parts supplier. Agency inspectors found dozens of infractions, leading to two willful violations for failing to ensure employees could exit the workplace safely and four repeat violations for not protecting workers from machine operation hazards, inadequate machine lockout/tagout procedures, and failure to control flammable liquids.

Among the 29 other violations, OSHA identified insufficient protections from fall, electrical, and noise hazards. In addition to paying monetary penalties, the employer agreed to put a comprehensive safety and health program in place to protect its employees.

The settlement requires Auto Store to implement a comprehensive corporate safety and health management system, consistent with OSHA's guidance, that includes the following:

  • Multiple safety audits of the facility by a third-party consultant;
  • Safety training programs based on the audit findings; and
  • Multiple avenues for workers to participate in safety efforts without fear of retaliation, including a safety management committee that will review audit findings and evaluate the progress of the company’s safety programs.

Auto Store LLC, based in Camden, purchases more than 7,000 cars and trucks each month for dismantling, according to OSHA. The company has an inventory of more than 80,000 used parts sold at its Camden location. It also has parts pickup locations in Baltimore, Maryland; Bayonne, New Jersey; and Brooklyn, New York. The company sells parts online for shipment to buyers nationwide.

The Office of the Solicitor in New York led the department's litigation of the case.

Connecticut contractor cited in dock collapse

Plantsville, Connecticut, marine and heavy construction contractor Mohawk Northeast Inc. faces $214,327 in OSHA fines following the collapse of a 200-foot section of pier on Hervey Tichon Avenue in New Bedford, Massachusetts, which plunged five workers into the Acushnet River, injuring two, the agency announced April 11.

Agency inspectors found that Mohawk Northeast didn’t determine if the pier’s walking and working surfaces had the strength and structural integrity to support employees safely with the weight of materials and equipment on them. OSHA issued the company a willful citation, assessing $161,323 in proposed penalties.

The agency also proposed an additional $53,004 in penalties for four serious violations related to potential fall, drowning, and struck-by hazards because of the employer’s failure to do the following:

  • Provide fall protection for employees working on the pier.
  • Anchor or secure a crawler crane to the barge effectively to prevent its shifting. 
  • Provide life jackets for employees working on the pier and an adjacent barge.
  • Protect or mark the crane’s swing radius to prevent it from striking employees.

Fall and struck-by hazards are two of the construction industry’s “Fatal Four” safety hazards; the other two are caught-in/-between and electrocution hazards. Last autumn, OSHA announced its construction industry fall protection standard has remained its most cited standard for 13 years.

“Mohawk Northeast Inc. had a responsibility to determine if the pier was structurally sound and ensure other required safeguards before placing its employees and equipment on the pier, but it chose not to do so,” James Mulligan, OSHA’s Braintree, Massachusetts, area office director, said in a statement. “Proper planning and preparation could have prevented the pier’s collapse. While fortunate that no fatalities occurred, the company still exposed employees needlessly to potentially fatal and disabling injuries.”

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