The US Department of Labor said June 28 that it is suing a Pennsylvania-based paper products maker and its owner after they fired a worker who raised safety concerns there.
The DoL said that an OSHA compliance officer conducted a safety inspection in October 2017 in response to a complaint that alleged the company failed to provide PPE and made employees unjam shredding and baling machines without implementing required lockout/tagout procedures.
According to the Department, an employee had asked their supervisor several times for safety gloves to operate a shredder and baler, but was denied.
That employee then suffered a hand injury while operating the machine, and was allegedly asked for gloves two more times after the injury and was still denied each time.
The DoL says Midvale later fired the worker in retaliation for those requests for gloves, taking part in OSHA’s investigation and a “mistaken belief that the worker filed the safety complaint that initiated the investigation.”
Midvale is contesting citations issued following that 2017 inspection, for which OSHA proposed a penalty exceeding $200,000 for nine workplace safety violations, including one serious, two willful and six repeat violations.
Midvale Paper Box is based in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, right next to Scranton, the home of the fictitious paper supplier Dunder-Mifflin portrayed in NBC’s The Office.