California OSHA Issues 36 Violations to Recycling Companies, Staffing Agency

California agency fines companies close to $39,000 for violations.


The California Department of Industrial Relations' (DIR) Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has issued 36 citations totaling $38,895 in penalties to American Reclamation Inc., a Los Angeles-based solid waste company, its South Coast Fibers Inc. recycling subsidiary and the company’s staffing agency, Steno Employment Services Inc.

According to an OSHA release, Cal/OSHA's investigation was triggered by a complaint from a Southern California advocacy group November 2011 about unsafe conditions workers had reported. 

“This serves as a reminder to all California employers that ensuring the safety of your workers is essential,” says Christine Baker, DIR’s director. “We stand ready to investigate complaints and enforce workplace safety laws.”

“Our investigation confirmed a number of serious risks to workers in the recycling industry,” says Cal/OSHA Chief Ellen Widess. “Workers need to be trained on the hazards they face, and employers should have adequate safety programs in place to prevent serious injuries and illnesses. We appreciate the work of advocacy groups that educate workers on their rights and assist in bringing these kinds of workplace safety hazards to our attention so that we can do our job protecting workers.”

Cal/OSHA issued five serious violations, including: a failure to follow a written program to prevent workers' entry into machinery before the energy is shut off, an unsafe work platform raised on a fork lift and various unguarded pieces of machinery that could lead to amputations and other serious injuries.

The investigation also revealed multiple violations for the three companies that included no permit-required confined space entry programs, no heat illness prevention training, no drinking water for drivers and helpers in the field and an inadequate injury and illness prevention program.

American Reclamation operates refuse collection trucks in Los Angeles County. South Coast Fibers purchases, processes and markets all recyclables such as cardboard boxes, glass, metal, plastic and paper. Steno Employment Services, Inc. provides workers' compensation insurance and payroll services to both companies.