Dairy, Subcontractor Face OSHA Fines

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 @ 01:08 PM gHale

Meadow Gold Dairies’ facility in Englewood and a Denver-based subcontractor, Tolin Mechanical, face over $325,000 in fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Following inspections, OSHA proposed $300,300 in fines for Meadow Gold for 43 violations, including one that says employees suffered exposure to a potential hazardous release of anhydrous ammonia because the company didn’t implement a required mechanical-integrity program. OSHA cited Meadow Gold Dairies, a subsidiary of Dean Foods, for two willful, one repeat, 35 serious and five other-than-serious violations.

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“Meadow Gold, as part of a large national corporation, is well aware of the requirements of OSHA standards,” said John Healy, OSHA area director in Englewood. “The violations which related to improper management of the anhydrous ammonia system demonstrate a lax attitude toward a potentially catastrophic atmospheric release.”

The willful violations involve employee exposure to a potential hazardous release of anhydrous ammonia due to a failure to implement a required mechanical integrity program. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.

The repeat violation relates to hazards associated with inadequate procedures for de-energizing equipment prior to performing maintenance activity. A repeat citation occurs when OSHA cited an employer for the same or similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. OSHA cited Meadow Gold Dairies for this same violation in 2010 at the same facility.

The serious violations include improper preventive maintenance of the anhydrous ammonia system, machine guarding hazards, fall hazards, inadequate personal protective equipment and electrical hazards. 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.

The other-than-serious violations include late recording of injury and illnesses on the OSHA 300 log, and various process safety management issues. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

OSHA cited Tolin Mechanical for four serious violations carrying $26,000 in proposed penalties. The violations involved employees not being properly trained on emergency procedures and lacking adequate personal protective equipment while doing electrical work.

Meadow Gold Dairies is reviewing OSHA’s report, said spokesman Jamaison Schuler of parent company Dean Foods

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