The week leading up to May 1, April 23 through April 30 was Workers’ Memorial Week, during which workers who suffered injuries, developed an illness or were killed on the job are remembered. Many industries are infamous for being dangerous, such as construction, manufacturing and even health care. These industries account for a disproportionate number of injuries and workers’ compensation claims than other types of workplaces.
Across all industries, however, there are certain companies that stand out with particularly egregious safety records. Each year, to commemorate Workers’ Memorial Week, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) publishes a “Dirty Dozen” list. This annual compilation is comprised of 12 companies that have been cited multiple times for safety violations by state and/or federal agencies. Workers at these companies have been injured or killed in workplaces accidents that could have been prevented.
This year, Verla International, a cosmetics manufacturer based in New Windsor, New York is among the Dirty Dozen. An explosion in November, 2017 killed one worker, injured 125 others and landed eight firefighters in the hospital. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal agency that oversees workplace safety in the U.S., cited the company for the unsafe practices that led to the fire and explosion.
Prior to the explosion, OSHA had cited the company 19 times since 2013. Of the 19 citations, 13 were for “serious” safety violations. An investigation found that workers had long been concerned about the safety of the workplace. They were given no safety training and little safety equipment. Senator Charles Schumer made a statement acknowledging that such “sloppy and dangerous” conditions “contributed” to the fire and explosion.
Source: National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, “The Dirty Dozen 2018: Employers who put workers and communities at risk,” accessed May 1, 2018.