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State Labor Department cites Babylon Village for new and repeat violations in highway department

Babylon Village officials have four deadlines this year

Babylon Village officials have four deadlines this year to remedy the total of 13 violations cited in a state Department of Labor report. Credit: T.C. McCarthy

The state Department of Labor has cited the Village of Babylon for more than a dozen health and safety violations in the highway department, including five that were originally issued in a 2016 probe.

According to a report obtained by Newsday, Department of Labor inspectors toured the highway department on April 25 after the Civil Service Employees Association, the union that represents village workers, filed a complaint. The inspectors found that staff were exposed to, or potentially exposed to, hazardous work conditions without proper training, the report stated.

Two violations — which the village was also cited for in 2016 — found that 23 sanitation workers were potentially exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials without being given vaccines, and that the employees were not trained in handling such materials.

The village didn’t provide emergency response training “to the 45 employees who might reasonably witness a hazardous chemical release when performing tasks including road maintenance and repair,” the report said, a repeat of a July 2016 violation.

Another violation, also cited in July 2016, found that the village gave employees dust masks or respirators for voluntary use but didn’t provide them with information about the hazards they could encounter from misuse and improper cleaning.

“Wearing a dirty respirator can cause dermatitis or ingestion of a hazardous chemical,” the report reads. “The sharing of a respirator can lead to the transmission of serious disease.”

The last repeat violation involved officials' failure to give inspectors required records of safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals that employees are exposed to.

“CSEA was concerned because we received numerous complaints from employees about unsafe working conditions, so we contacted the Department of Labor, so they went in and they found those complaints to be true,” said Wendi Bowie, CSEA communication specialist for the Long Island region.

Mayor Ralph Scordino said the village has already addressed about half of the violations and expects to complete employee training within one month, led by the village's insurance company, Fleury Risk Management.

"It's from the New York State Labor Department; they do an excellent job, they come in, they do their job, citing us where we can improve our work stations and make it safe for our workers,” Scordino said.

Inspectors filed a new violation against the village’s emergency response plan, which the report said lacks major elements such as evacuation routes and procedures, decontamination procedures and site security and control.

The village was issued three more respirator violations, one for not giving employees medical evaluations before requiring some to wear the masks while performing tasks like spray painting indoors. Two more were issued for not testing the fit of the masks annually and for not providing annual training, the report said.

A few more violations centered on hazardous chemicals, with containers lacking labels and employees not being trained, potentially exposing them during their regular work duties, the report said.

Four compressed acetylene cylinders not securely stored presented a hazard, the report said, a violation that was corrected during the inspection.

The village has until Dec. 6 to remedy five of the violations; until Oct. 22 to remedy six more; until Sept. 30 for one, and until Sept. 23 for another.

If the village doesn’t rectify the violations by the deadlines, it faces fines of up to $200 per violation, per day, until they are corrected, according to the report. Scordino said he doesn’t know whether the village was fined after the 2016 violations.

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