Imperial Sugar Hit with $6M in Safety Fines

Monday, July 12, 2010 @ 02:07 PM gHale

As a result of a February 2008 explosion at the Imperial Sugar Co. Port Wentworth, Ga., plant that left 14 dead and safety and health violations at its Gramercy, La., facility, Imperial Sugar will pay over $6 million in fines, said officials at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
“The 2008 explosion took the lives of 14 people and seriously injured dozens of others. Clearly, health and safety must become this company’s top priority,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “This agreement requires Imperial Sugar to make extensive changes to its safety practices, and it underscores the importance of proactively addressing workplace safety and health hazards.”
Imperial Sugar will pay $4.05 millino in penalties for the 124 violations found at its Port Wentworth plant after the explosion, plus an additional $2 million for the 97 violations found in March 2008 after an inspection of its only other facility, located in Gramercy. Among other safety and health hazards, the citations said the company failed to properly address combustible dust hazards.
As part of the settlement, Imperial Sugar said it corrected all deficiencies at its plants or will correct those deficiencies according to a set schedule. Preventative maintenance and housekeeping programs are underway, and Imperial Sugar will identify and map locations where combustible dust may be present at its plants. The company also will conduct regular internal safety inspections and employee training, and hire an independent expert at each plant to ensure adequate communication on worker safety and health issues.
Imperial Sugar hired and will continue to employ a full-time certified safety professional for the Georgia plant. The company will retain outside consultants to conduct safety audits for a three-year period and evaluate Imperial’s programs relating to managing combustible dust hazards, such as housekeeping, preventative maintenance and protective equipment for workers. OSHA will approve all safety, health and organizational experts retained by the company.
OSHA will receive current and accurate injury logs whenever requested, and OSHA can enter the facility and conduct inspections based on those logs without objection from the company. OSHA will regularly monitor progress and compliance with the agreement and continue to conduct regular inspections of the facility.

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