Food Plant Faces Safety Fines

Friday, June 13, 2014 @ 04:06 PM gHale

Bioiberica Nebraska is facing $101,200 in fines for 10 safety and health violations, including three willful, for failing to protect workers from moving machine parts during service and maintenance at its Geneva, NE, facility, according to officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

In addition, OSHA placed the company in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Bioiberica Nebraska is a subsidiary of Bioiberica S.A. based in Barcelona, Spain. The company, which produces products for the pharmaceutical, food supplement and functional foods industries, employs 322 workers worldwide and 11 at the Geneva site. This was the first OSHA inspection at the plant.

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“OSHA’s investigation found multiple violations that exposed workers to serious amputation risks. Workers servicing or maintaining machines or equipment may be seriously injured or killed if basic protections on machines are not provided,” said Bonita Winingham, OSHA’s area director in Omaha. “Manufacturers, such as Bioiberica Nebraska, must recognize the hazards their employees face and take precautions to keep them safe on the job.”

The three willful violations were for exposing workers to injuries, such as electrocution, burns, crushing, lacerating, amputating or fracturing body parts. These violations included failure to develop written procedures, provide training, and implement a program with locks, tags or other hardware to prevent machines from starting up while employees performed service and maintenance of machinery. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.

OSHA cited Bioiberica Nebraska with seven serious violations for failing to provide workers training to recognize, evaluate and control exposure to hazardous chemicals. The facility uses several hazardous chemicals in its manufacturing process, including diatomaceous earth, which contains up to 44 percent crystalline silica. Silica exposure can cause silicosis, an irreversible lung disease, and other health hazards.

Other serious violations involve failing to develop and implement a written respiratory protection program and to train workers on wearing respiratory protection prior to use, lack of fall protection and violations of forklift standards, including use of seat belts and operator training and evaluation.

An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

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