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The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited Acadian Fine Foods LLC for 16 safety and health violations, including 14 serious, one willful and one repeat violation, following a referral inspection that began in December 2013 at the Church Point processing plant. The food processor faces $121,660 in proposed fines for failing to protect workers from overexposure to carbon dioxide, dangerous machines and other safety hazards.
"Acadian Fine Foods exposed employees to levels of carbon dioxide that were at least four times above the permissible exposure limit," said Dorinda Folse, OSHA's area director. "This glaring neglect of worker health and safety will not be tolerated. OSHA's safety and health standards must be followed to prevent worker injuries and fatalities. It is the employer's responsibility to find and fix these hazards."
Originally, OSHA's Baton Rouge Area Office conducted a complaint inspection in November 2013, which resulted in Acadian being cited with four serious violations for electrical hazards and unsafe forklift operation. That penalty, which the employer settled in May, was $15,400. However, a health referral was made based on employees being exposed to unsafe levels of carbon dioxide, which resulted in the December 2013 inspection.
The 14 serious violations, with a fine of $72,380, involved failing to guard moving machine parts; conduct annual inspections of lockout/tagout procedures; properly identify respiratory hazards at the plant; include safety data sheets for carbon dioxide, sanitizer and boiler water treatment; and provide personal protective equipment.
With a penalty of $38,500, one willful citation was issued for exposing workers to carbon dioxide levels deemed life threatening. The employer failed to implement proper controls to reduce the carbon dioxide levels in the plant and provide workers with adequate respiratory protection.
One repeat violation, with a penalty of $10,780, was cited for failing to ensure an electrical panel box was enclosed to eliminate worker exposure to live electrical wires. A similar violation was cited in the April 2012 inspection.
Acadian Fine Foods' Church Point food-processing plant, which employs approximately 29 workers, has 15 working days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
For more information, visit www.osha.gov.