Safety Violations for Milk Coop

Tuesday, May 1, 2012 @ 07:05 PM gHale

Upstate Niagara Milk Cooperative’s Rochester, NY, plant is facing fines of $200,500 for 12 violations, most of which revolve around safeguards on the ammonia used in refrigeration, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The OSHA citations range from blocking an entrance to the height of venting pipe, to lack or adequacy of certain procedures for workers in confined places, including inside dairy tanks.

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Some of the violations are repeats of ones cited and addressed at another Upstate plant in Buffalo.

“The requirements of OSHA’s standard are stringent and comprehensive because failure to effectively evaluate, anticipate, address and prevent hazardous conditions can lead to a catastrophic incident,” said Arthur Dube, OSHA’s area director for western New York.

Mike Stratton, assistant area director for OSHA, said the venting pipe needed to be taller so a potential discharge wouldn’t harm workers. “It needed to be high enough so it wouldn’t disperse into the plant.”

Mark Sterling, a spokesman for Upstate, said he couldn’t comment on the specific citations, but said the company will review them and meet soon with OSHA officials.

“We obviously take the safety and well-being of our employees and everyone (around) the plant very seriously,” Sterling said.

Upstate, a cooperative of more than 300 farmers, has operated the plant at 45 Fulton Ave. since the 1960s. The plant processes flavored milks.

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