Carolyn FortinoDec 7, 2017, 6:49 pmDec 8, 2017, 12:41 pm

Dept. of Labor helping workers affected by cosmetics factory fire

Verla International is under intense scrutiny following an explosion that left 1 person dead

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NEWBURGH — A 6-month investigation is being conducted by the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration into working conditions at Verla International after a deadly explosion at the cosmetic manufacturer's facility in New Windsor that killed one person and injured at least 125 others.

Workers' rights advocates say the factory had already been the subject of complaints due worker safety issues, and that following the explosion, nothing has been done to change Verla's practices.

"They were routinely working around chemicals that were corrosive to the gloves they were wearing while they were handling chemicals," said Workers' rights advocate Kihani Brea. "We've heard there was no fire plan in place, exits were not clearly marked, there was confusion about which exits you should use in case of an emergency, and those were just some of the complaints that we've heard."

Now, the Department of Labor is fielding additional complaints from workers and informing them of their rights with unemployment insurance and health and legal services following the explosion.

"Everything from screening for wage abuses, looking at who is eligible for unemployment insurance, and also job placement," said Milan Bhatt, the Assistant Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Labor.

FiOS1 News, has made several attempts to speak with the workers of Verla International; however, despite the alleged safety concerns at the facility, many of them are still fearful to come forward as they want to return to their jobs.

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