A New Jersey aluminum manufacturer announced layoffs of 61 employees in the wake of an "onerous" fine levied by federal workplace safety regulators last month.
Aluminum Shapes LLC said in a statement last week that the company was forced to reverse much of the growth in its workforce over the past two-plus years due to the nearly $2 million in penalties proposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The company cut 51 unionized workers — about 13 percent of its union workforce — as well as 10 front-office staff.
"The size of OSHA's fine as it stands today has forced the company to take these extreme measures," the company said, according to the Courier-Post.
The statement added that the company is investing time and money in "safer production processes and equipment," but Aluminum Shapes continues to dispute the allegations made by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in late July.
OSHA inspectors found 51 safety and health violations and proposed more than $1.9 million penalties following a January inspection of its Delair, N.J., facility.
The investigation found that one employee was hospitalized due to burns from repeated exposure to hazardous chemicals and another sustained a broken pelvis after becoming caught in a metal fabrication machine.
OSHA officials also noted that Aluminum Shapes was previously cited for 60 violations since 2011.
“Despite its lengthy OSHA history, Aluminum Shapes still does not comply with federal safety and health standards. These hazards leave workers vulnerable to the risk of serious injury and possible death," said OSHA area director Paula Dixon-Roderick in a statement announcing the citations.
Aluminum Shapes was also linked to a Commerce Department investigation of a scheme to evade U.S. tariffs on Chinese-made aluminum last year.