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Safety violations uncovered after New Jersey warehouse accident

Temporary workers often long for permanent jobs with perks, health care coverage and retirement plans. Many Bergen County temporary employees may feel that they have no benefits whatsoever, but that's not true when it comes to safety. The well-being of all workers, including short-term employees, is the responsibility of employers and agencies hired to fill temporary positions.

Under rules regulated by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, temp agencies are required to check whether employers provide safe working environments. The agencies must conduct employer hazard assessments or confirm one has been done before sending temp employees to work.

A worker in Avenal was crushed in a machine last December while working in an Amazon Fulfillment Center. The man became caught in a package conveyor and died. OSHA inspected the facility and issued a report in June, the same month an Amazon warehouse worker in a nearby state died in a pallet-moving accident.

The federal report on the New Jersey warehouse accident uncovered safety violations among five companies. OSHA found fault with the company in charge of warehouse operations and four temporary staffing agencies, including the agency that hired the man who died, plus three other firms all owned by Abacus Corporation.

The companies were penalized $6,000 for each serious safety violations, defined by OSHA as work conditions under which employees can be severely injured or die. The temp agencies were accused of failing to check the Amazon facility for safety hazards. The off-site operator, a business contracted by Amazon to place warehouse workers, was charged with neglecting to certify a hazard assessment was done.

The jobs of warehouse workers often include substantial physical effort and the operation of large machinery. Safety may be compromised as workers hurry to meet employer deadlines. Injured workers and their families may receive workers' compensation benefits and, depending on the cause of an accident, additional relief from liability claims.

Source: PennLive, "OSHA cites five companies after Amazon warehouse death in New Jersey" Steve Marroni, Jun. 12, 2014

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