Sugar Cooperative Faces Safety Fines

Wednesday, August 7, 2013 @ 04:08 PM gHale

The Western Sugar Cooperative in Billings, MT, faces $193,300 in fines for 17 violations of safety and health standards, including 12 serious and four repeat, according to officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The Denver, CO-based sugar producer faces the action after a January inspection conducted by OSHA’s Billings Area Office at the Billings manufacturing plant under the agency’s National Emphasis Program for Site Specific Targeting.

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The four repeat safety violations involve hazards associated with excessive accumulations of combustible coal dust, unguarded elevated platforms, lack of signs on permit spaces and unguarded horizontal shafting. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously faced citations for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. OSHA has inspected this employer 16 times since February 2008, finding 30 violations at work sites in Montana, Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming.

“This employer continues to put its workforce in jeopardy by neglecting to comply with standards and implement safeguards,” said Jeff Funke, director of OSHA’s Billings Area Office. “OSHA will hold employers accountable, especially those who repeatedly fail to ensure workers’ safety and health.”

OSHA also cited The Western Sugar Cooperative for 12 serious safety violations, including unsafe use of flexible cords and electrical equipment; open junction boxes; inadequate fire exits; failure to provide standard railings on stairways; unguarded points of operation and rotating parts; unguarded vertical shafting and projecting shaft ends; and overhead crane hook deficiencies.

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.

In addition, OSHA inspectors found one other-than-serious safety violation for the employer’s failure to provide workers with basic information on respirators.

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