The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Howard Fertilizer & Chemical Company's Groveland, Fla., facility with 23 safety violations and proposed $236,000 in penalties.

"This company is putting its employees' lives at risk by failing to correct serious safety hazards and to educate its employees about these hazards," said Les Grove, OSHA's area director in Tampa.

OSHA has cited the fertilizer manufacturer with failing to fully abate three hazards that OSHA had identified during a previous inspection. The agency has proposed $138,000 in penalties against the company for not informing and training employees about recognized dangers, not installing standard railings on open-sided catwalks, and exposing employees to confined spaces and electrical hazards.

The company has been cited with 12 repeat violations carrying $72,000 in proposed penalties for failing to provide fall protection, not instituting lockout procedures (to prevent accidental energization start-ups) and machine guards on equipment, and exposing employees to numerous electrical hazards.

Eight serious safety violations have been noted and $26,000 in penalties proposed against the company for failing to properly maintain catwalks, roof support beams and electrical equipment.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to contest them and the proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by staff from OSHA's area office in Tampa.

OSHA operates a vigorous enforcement program, conducting more than 39,000 federal inspections in fiscal year 2007 and exceeded its inspection goals in each of the last eight years. In fiscal year 2007, OSHA cited nearly 89,000 violations of its standards and regulations.