Serious Safety Fines at Food Firm

Friday, March 14, 2014 @ 02:03 PM gHale


Schwan’s Global Supply Chain Inc., which manufactures frozen foods sold under several brand names, including Red Baron pizza and Mrs. Smith’s desserts, is facing citations for 32 serious safety and health violations at its Atlanta facility, according to officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Two other companies providing maintenance and staffing services for Schwan’s, including Cimco Refrigeration Inc. and Adecco USA Inc., are facing citations for 18 safety and health violations, OSHA said. In all, fines total $264,360.

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“All workers, whether full-time or temporary, deserve the same commitment and access to a safe workplace. Schwan’s, Cimco Refrigeration and Adecco are not providing that for their employees,” said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA’s Atlanta-East Area Office. “OSHA standards are there to protect workers from predictable and preventable injuries and deaths. These standards were disregarded at the expense of worker safety.”

OSHA inspectors found the employers did not provide adequate training for employees to work safely with ammonia, a hazardous and corrosive chemical used in refrigeration. The employers also face citations for exposing workers to unguarded machines and damaging noise levels, and for failure to provide properly fitted personal protective equipment. OSHA initiated the inspection at Schwan’s facility in September 2013, following a worker complaint. OSHA’s citations carry $185,700 in penalties for Schwan’s.

The inspection found Schwan’s exposed workers to dangerous conditions, many created by the company’s failure to follow the OSHA Process Safety Management Standard to protect workers from dangerous exposure to ammonia used in the refrigeration system. The employer had a citation for failing to ensure that doors to the ammonia handling machinery fit properly, for creating a chemical hazard and failing to provide training on safe work practices applicable to the ammonia refrigeration systems used at the facility. Schwan’s also had a citation for blocked and mismarked exits in hazardous areas, failing to train workers on controlling hazardous energy through standard lockout/tagout procedures during maintenance and services, and exposing workers to 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 Minnesota-based company employs 14,000 employees nationwide. The Atlanta facility, which produces dough, cookies and pie crusts, employs 494 workers.

OSHA inspectors found temporary workers in Schwan’s facility, employed by the Adecco staffing agency, also suffered exposure to hazards. These included noise and unguarded machines and platforms, which created a fall hazard. As a result, OSHA cited Adecco for 12 serious safety and health violations, carrying penalties of $58,500. With headquarters in Melville, NY, Adecco employs over 300,000 workers nationwide. Adecco maintains an office at the Schwan’s facility and provides labor and management of the on-site workforce.

In April 2013, OSHA announced an initiative to improve workplace safety and health for temporary workers. During the inspection, OSHA inspectors paid special attention to the hazards facing temporary workers to determine the role of the host employer and the staffing agency in failing to eliminate serious hazards.

Cimco provided service and maintenance for the ammonia refrigeration system at Schwan’s Atlanta facility. It has citations for six serious safety and health violations, carrying penalties of $20,160. The violations were for exposing contract workers to excessive noise levels by failing to implement a noise monitoring program. Cimco also failed to provide necessary training, properly fitted respirators and clearly marked exits.



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