Food Maker Steps up Safety

Friday, January 22, 2016 @ 01:01 PM gHale

When an Atlanta food manufacturing facility learned it had fallen back into their own trap of previous safety violations, instead of fighting the repeated citations, they went in the opposite direction.

Schwan’s Global Supply Inc., a subsidiary of the multibillion dollar private food giant, The Schwan Food Company, accepted their penalty and inked a pre-citation settlement agreement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

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“We are very encouraged that Schwan recognized the safety failures that have reoccurred and is taking full responsibility,” said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA’s Atlanta East Area Office. “The company settled the citations immediately and signed the enhanced compliance agreement as part of its commitment to protect its workers and operate safely. When employers are committed to safety, everyone wins.”

OSHA cited Schwan, which manufactures frozen foods sold under several brand names, including Red Baron, Tony’s and Freschetta pizza and Mrs. Smith’s desserts, at its Atlanta facility, for four repeated, three serious and three other-than-serious safety and health violations.

The agency issued repeated citations for failing to:
• Ensure workers used safety procedures to prevent unexpected machine start up during maintenance and servicing
• Ensure machinery was properly guarded
• Implement safety procedures for the ammonia refrigeration systems

OSHA previously cited Schwan Global Supply in 2013 for similar violations at the facility.

The agency issued serious citations to the company for failing to:
• Develop written emergency shutdown procedures for the refrigeration system
• Train workers, technicians and first responders on emergency action plans or responder’s duties for refrigerant spills at the facility

Other violations include the employer not reviewing operating procedures at least annually and not conducting a respirator fit-test for a first responder.

In its settlement, Schwan Global Supply will pay penalties of $100,000. In addition, the agreement includes extensive enhancements and commitments for safety and health improvements such as:
• Assuring only authorized, properly trained employees perform service and maintenance on machinery
• Hiring a third-party consultant to conduct an audit of the facility focused on equipment, fall, electrical and guarding hazards
• Conducting training for employees on emergency shut-down, contractors, first-responder, standard operating procedures for new machinery and keeping OSHA 300 logs
• Meeting with OSHA officials quarterly to discuss the status of compliance

Based in Marshall, MN, the Schwan Food Company has 14,000 employees nationwide. The company’s Atlanta subsidiary produces dough, cookies and piecrusts with 490 workers.