The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Fieldbrook Foods Corporation of Dunkirk, N.Y., for 22 alleged serious violations of OSHA health and safety standards. The ice cream manufacturer faces $90,500 in proposed fines for incomplete or inadequate safeguards for its refrigeration system and other hazards at its One Ice Cream Drive plant.

The bulk of the citations cover deficiencies in the plant's Process Safety Management (PSM) program. OSHA's PSM standard mandates a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers must follow to proactively assess and address hazards associated with processes and equipment involving the use of large amounts of a hazardous chemical. In this case, more than 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia used in the plant's refrigeration system.

"Process safety management demands constant, effective attention and commitment because the consequences of a leak or other incident can be severe and catastrophic," said Arthur Dube, OSHA's area director in Buffalo. "Each element of the process must be rigorously, completely and continuously addressed to minimize hazards and maximize a safe and healthful working environment."

Specifically, OSHA found that the plant and its refrigeration process lacked the following: complete process safety information and process hazard analyses; written operating procedures for safely conducting process activities and for maintaining the ongoing mechanical integrity of process equipment; inspections, testing procedures and documentation to ensure that process equipment complied with recognized and generally acceptable good engineering practices; written procedures to manage changes in the process; a system to promptly address and resolve incident report findings; review of incident reports by all involved personnel; appropriate responses to compliance audit findings; refresher training for employees involved in the process; and a means of informing contract workers of process hazards.

OSHA also identified hazards involving unguarded, open-sided floors and work platforms; exit route doors opening in the wrong direction; uncovered electrical junction boxes and electrical cords used in place of fixed wiring; no emergency eyewash where required; and inadequate lockout procedures (to prevent accidental machine start-ups) and equipment for a compressor room pump.

A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.