A Lakewood company that makes electronic cigarettes was fined nearly $185,000 for 20 workplace safety and health violations, the U.S. Labor Department said.
Among the most serious violations by eSmoke LLC: the company didn’t provide or enforce the use of protective gloves or eye protection for workers handling nicotine, the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration said.
“Each of these hazards has the potential to cause serious injury and must be abated as soon as possible,” Paula Dixon-Roderick, director of OSHA’s office in Marlton, said. “We want to ensure that workers can go home healthy at the end of every workday.”
ESmoke makes electronic cigarette equipment that it sells mostly online. It has 20 employees and has been in business for five years.
The company was investigated last October by the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division and paid $73,220 in back wages and damages that it owed 150 employees, the department said.
Jason Sokol, the company’s chief operating officer, said it agreed to correct some of the safety deficiencies.
But the company plans to contest the most serious allegations, which were made by a disgruntled employee, Sokol said.
He said the company has receipts to show it purchased $3,000 worth of gloves, and it has eye protection available.
“We are really going to be branded in a very negative light, when in fact some of these serious violations are completely inaccurate,” Sokol said.
Other serious violations, according to OHSA:
• The company failed to select and require appropriate hand protection for workers exposed to toxic chemicals.
• It didn’t prohibit eating in toxic-exposed work areas.
• It didn’t mount a portable fire extinguisher or train workers on how to use it.
• It didn’t have proper labels for containers filled with liquid nicotine.
OSHA issues serious citations when there is substantial probability that a hazard that an employer should know about would cause death or injury.