SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Jim Kaskade, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Greg Ness, Sean Houghton

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California Labor Enforcement Task Force issues stop orders for dangerous equipment at LA garment businesses

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- California's Labor Enforcement Task Force (LETF), a multi-agency group formed to combat the underground economy, encountered serious issues with industrial equipment at two garment businesses Wednesday in an enforcement activity in El Monte and the greater Los Angeles area. The businesses were issued orders to stop any work with the dangerous equipment until the employers can ensure the equipment has the appropriate safeguards.

Vinh Loi Inc., a garment contractor with 26 workers employed at two locations in El Monte, had an industrial fabric cutter with improper safeguards to the cutting blade as well as the belt and pulley.

Kinary Inc., an El Monte denim washing business that employs 22 workers to dye and stone-wash jeans and other garments, had nine of its eleven industrial washers removed from service by Cal/OSHA until the proper safeguards in the belt and pulley workings on the washers are reinstalled. Two of the same washers were not equipped with interlocks to prevent movement of the washer drums while the door is open. A worker was crushed to death in July 2011 after falling into an open, operating washing machine with missing interlocks at another denim washing shop in Los Angeles.

"Employers are required to ensure that their equipment is safe for workers to operate," said Department of Industrial Relations Director Christine Baker, who oversees the task force. "When industrial machinery does not have the proper safeguards, workers can be killed or suffer serious injuries including amputation."

Vinh Loi, Inc. is also under investigation by the Labor Commissioner's Office and the Employment Development Department for labor law issues including cash pay and overtime as well as possible payroll tax violations. The state agencies have served notice of a pending audit to further investigate the business.

LETF is a multiple agency collaborative effort to combat the underground economy and improve the state's business environment. It includes investigators with the Department of Industrial Relations' Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (Labor Commissioner's Office) and Cal/OSHA, as well as the Employment Development Department, Contractors State License Board, the Board of Equalization, Alcohol and Beverage Control and the Bureau of Automotive Repair.

Businesses operating underground generally violate those laws that are designed to protect workers and California's economy. Skirting income taxes, not carrying workers' compensation insurance, failing to provide required workplace safeguards and paying employees less than what they are owed are common practices of underground businesses. These underground operations subsequently require lower overhead, giving an unfair advantage to the illegal businesses over legitimate, law-abiding employers. 

California workers and employers can contact the LETF hotline at 855-297-5322 to report documented complaints and enforcement tips. Complaints will be screened and prioritized in order to catch the most egregious offenders.

More information on the task force as well as employer and worker rights and responsibilities is available online.

CONTACT:
Erika Monterroza
Peter Melton
(510) 286-1161

Internet: www.dir.ca.gov 
Twitter: @CA_DIR
Facebook.com/CaliforniaDIR

SOURCE California Labor Enforcement Task Force/DIR

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