$200,300 in Fines for Workplace Violations

 
Friday, April 27, 2012
 

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc. for 12 alleged violations of workplace safety standards at its Rochester production facility. The milk products manufacturer faces a total of $200,300 in proposed fines.

An inspection by OSHA’s Buffalo Area Office identified several deficiencies in the company’s process safety management program, a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers must follow to proactively address hazards associated with processes and equipment that involve large amounts of hazardous chemicals. In this case, the chemical was anhydrous ammonia used in the plant’s refrigeration system.

Specifically, OSHA found that the plant’s process hazard analysis did not address all hazards; the plant lacked a system to ensure the recommendations by the process analysis team are resolved and documented in a timely manner; operating procedures were not reviewed as often as necessary; and the PSM program lacked written procedures to maintain the mechanical integrity of refrigeration equipment.  These conditions resulted in the issuance of four repeat citations, with $154,000 in proposed penalties. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. In this case, OSHA cited Upstate Niagara in 2009 for similar hazards at its Cheektowaga, N.Y., plant.

Eight serious citations, with $46,300 in proposed fines, were issued for obstructed exit routes; an inadequate confined space entry program, procedures and training; electric equipment, wiring methods and installations that were not safe or approved for a hazardous location; and incomplete PSM procedures, tests and documentation.  A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.  

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

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