Safety Penalties for Yogurt Maker

Friday, March 16, 2012 @ 02:03 PM gHale

Yogurt maker, Agro Farma Inc. is facing $178,000 in fines for 34 violations of workplace safety and health standards at its New Berlin, NY, facility, said Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials.

The company manufactures Chobani Greek Yogurt.

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“Our inspections identified a wide range of mechanical, chemical, electrical and health hazards that, left uncorrected, expose the plant’s employees to being caught in moving machine parts or unexpectedly energized machinery, electrocution, falls, being overcome in toxic or oxygen-deficient atmospheres, and hearing loss,” said Christopher Adams, OSHA’s area director in Syracuse, NY.

OSHA found instances of unguarded moving machine parts; electrical hazards, including failing to train employees in electric safety-related work practices; a lack of personal protective equipment for employees working on live electrical equipment; a lack of fall protection for employees accessing the top of milk trucks; missing or inadequate energy control procedures and training for employees cleaning a trash compactor; failing to label all confined space work areas and provide confined space training; wet floors; unguarded floor holes; railings not provided over dangerous equipment; and stairway and exit deficiencies.

The inspection also identified deficiencies in the plant’s process safety management program, which prevents the unexpected release of toxic, reactive or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals, including unlabeled containers of hazardous chemicals; failing to provide audiometric testing for employees exposed to excess noise levels; and failing to refit and retrain employees who experienced a hearing loss. These conditions resulted in the issuance of 33 serious citations, with $177,000 in proposed fines. 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.

Agro Farma also faces one other-than-serious citation, with a $1,000 fine, for failing to record hearing losses in its OSHA 300 injury and illness log. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

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