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The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed $247,050 in fines against U.F.S. Industries, doing business as Sally Sherman Foods, chiefly for failing to correct hazards previously cited at the salad manufacturer's Mount Vernon, N.Y., plant. OSHA first cited the plant in November 2009 for failing to provide adequate fall protection, machine guarding and hazardous energy control for workers at the plant. A follow up inspection, begun in May of this year to verify correction of the cited hazards, found several conditions unchanged.
"The bulk of these sizable fines stem from five instances in which the company agreed to correct specific hazards and did not follow through on that commitment," said Diana Cortez, OSHA's area director in Tarrytown. "This situation meant workers at the plant remained exposed to potential falls, lacerations, crushing and amputation injuries or being caught in the moving parts of machinery. That is not acceptable."
The uncorrected hazards included workers exposed to falls from heights of 5 to 6 feet due to missing or inadequate guardrails, inadequate guarding of moving parts of mixer machines and carrot shredders, failure to develop a lockout/tagout program to prevent the unintended startup of machinery during maintenance, and failure to provide workers with training and equipment to implement the program. OSHA issued the plant five failure to abate notices with $236,250 in proposed fines for these conditions. OSHA issues such notices and proposes additional fines when an employer fails to correct previously cited hazards.
OSHA's inspection also identified recurring machine guarding hazards similar to those cited in the earlier inspection, leading to three repeat citations with $9,600 in fines. Finally, one serious citation with a $1,200 fine was issued for a new condition, the improper storage of oxygen and acetylene cylinders. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.
"One means by which employers can prevent recurring hazards is to establish an effective, comprehensive workplace safety and health program, in which their workers take a continuous and active role in evaluating, identifying and eliminating hazards," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, meet with OSHA or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.