OSHA Proposes Hefty Fines Against Sodexo for Alleged Safety Violations

Bruce Beggs |

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing fines exceeding $77,000 against Sodexo’s (formerly Sodexho) industrial laundry here for inadequate employee safeguards, the U.S. Department of Labor agency announced in a press release May 5.
OSHA cited Sodexo for 13 alleged repeat and serious violations of safety and health standards following inspections that began in January in response to employee complaints, the agency says.
“These citations address employees’ exposure to a variety of hazards including falls, burns, electrocution, explosions, confined spaces, respiratory hazards, bloodborne pathogens, lack of personal protective equipment and being caught in unguarded or unexpectedly energized dryers and other machinery,” says Arthur Dube, OSHA’s area director in Buffalo. “It is of paramount importance that these conditions must be addressed effectively and quickly.”
When contacted by American Laundry News for comment, Sodexo provided this prepared statement:
“Sodexo believes that nothing is more important than the safety of all of our employees. We are working closely with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to ensure that the facility meets all regulatory and safety standards for the industry. We are pleased to report that we resolved many of the concerns immediately (during the inspection) and all of them have now been addressed.”
OSHA issued six repeat citations — issued when an employer has previously been cited for similar hazards and those citations have become final — that carry $63,100 in proposed fines. OSHA deems them to be repeat citations based on citations issued in 2005 and 2006 for Sodexo facilities in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Portland, Maine.
The alleged violations relate to lack of procedures and training to prevent the unexpected startup of dryers and other equipment while employees were working on them; accumulations of dust, lint and debris on work surfaces or in work areas; using an electrical extension cord in place of permanent wiring; no bloodborne pathogens training for employees exposed to contaminated clothing and sharp instruments; and no log for recording injuries from sharp instruments.
The Buffalo laundry was also issued seven serious citations, carrying $14,025 in fines, for unguarded open pits and runways; unguarded moving conveyor parts; failure to identify and label confined spaces; lack of personal protective equipment; using an electrical conduit as a walkway; and inadequate respiratory protection.
A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known, OSHA says.
Sodexo has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.


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