The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited All-Feed Processing and Packaging Inc. in Galva, Ill., with alleged serious, repeat, willful and failure to abate citations of federal workplace safety and health standards. Proposed fines total $518,520.

OSHA began its safety and health inspections at the pet food research and packaging facility in response to a fire in April that sent three workers to a local hospital. The resulting inspection revealed nine alleged willful, four serious, two repeat and two failure to abate violations.

Hazards identified as willful violations addressed the lack of explosion prevention systems for combustible dust, inadequate housekeeping where dust could accumulate, insufficient personal protective equipment, training deficiencies, failure to lockout energy sources during maintenance and other lockout/tagout issues, and the lack of warning signs where combustible dust was being processed. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

Serious violations included fall hazards and issues pertaining to employees entering or working in confined spaces where a variety of hazards could be present. A serious citation is issued 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.

The repeat violation cites the company's failure to compile a list of hazardous chemicals used at the plant and the failure to include such a list in the hazardous communication program, and for the lack of proper employee training. The company had been previously cited for these violations and had agreed to correct the problems but had not done so. The failure to abate violations included use of flexible cords as a substitute for fixed wiring and equipment and wiring was not approved for hazardous locations.

"Recent events have shown the damage that can result from the failure to control dust and dust explosions," said OSHA area director Nick Walters, Peoria, Ill. "The cost of human life and health is far too great a price to pay for anyone to ignore this hazard. All of us want to see working men and women go home safe at the end of every work shift."

In business since 1997, the company has been inspected by OSHA on seven occasions since January 2000. These inspections have resulted in the issuance of 31 serious, nine willful, four repeat and seven other-than-serious citations.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director in Peoria or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.