Safety Fines for Fruit Processor, Staffing Firm

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 @ 10:07 AM gHale


Fresh From Texas Inc., a fresh fruit and vegetable processor for H-E-B Grocery stores and fast-food markets, and staffing agency iWorks Personnel Inc. are facing $135,200 in fines for 18 violations for exposing workers to damaging noise levels, chemical hazards and possible amputation hazards for failing to train machine operators on controlling hazardous energy, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The proposed fine was the result of a complaint inspection that began in December. Fresh From Texas employs 515 workers at its San Antonio facility. iWorks Personnel employs about 130 workers in the San Antonio and Houston areas.

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“Workers, whether employed directly by the company or as a temporary worker, require proper training on workplace hazards. In this case, both Fresh From Texas and iWorks failed to do so and put workers in danger,” said Kelly C. Knighton, OSHA’s area director in San Antonio. “Both host employers and staffing agencies have roles in complying with workplace health and safety requirements, and they share responsibility for ensuring worker safety and health.”

Fresh From Texas received citations for 12 serious safety and health violations, with a penalty of $76,100, for failing to prevent workers from exposure to hazardous chemicals; to identify and evaluate respiratory hazards in the workplace; and to ensure a hearing conservation program ended up implemented for workers exposed to noise levels that would cause permanent hearing damage. Regarding slicing and dicing machines, violations were for failing to establish a written lockout/tagout program for energy sources to ensure machines ended up turned off when workers were inside them; provide machine operators with training; guard rotating gears; and provide safety instructions on the machines.

Two repeat violations, with a penalty of $49,500, were for failing to ensure sufficient working space around electrical equipment and unobstructed access to fire extinguishers. The company faced similar violations in 2012. Three other violations, with a penalty of $3,300, were for failing to record injuries of temporary workers, review the log for accuracy and ensure safety instructions ended up clearly posted on dangerous machines.

OSHA inspectors found temporary workers employed by iWorks Personnel also ended up exposed to chemical hazards and did not receive training on chemical safety. As a result, OSHA cited iWorks for one serious safety and health violation, with a penalty of $6,300.

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. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously faced citations 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.



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