The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed $116,500 in fines against Domain Inc., New Richmond, Wis., for alleged willful and serious violations of workplace safety standards following an inspection at the dairy, beef and feed-products manufacturing facility where an employee fatality occurred in April.

The investigation resulted in citations issued to Domain Inc. alleging two willful and 14 serious violations of federal workplace safety regulations. The alleged willful violations addressed the company's failure to clearly and specifically develop energy control procedures for servicing and maintaining equipment and the failure to ensure that all hazardous energy sources were locked out. Serious violations addressed other deficiencies in the employer's lockout/tagout program, deficiencies in confined-space programs, noise monitoring and electrical and machine-guarding issues.

OSHA officials opened their investigation on April 14 after receiving information that an employee had died at the facility that day. The employee was cleaning out a mixer and lower-surge hopper during a permit-required confined space entry. A pneumatically operated drop gate that should have been locked out suddenly activated.

OSHA issues a serious citation 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. Violations are categorized as willful where there is either an intentional disregard or plain indifference to employee safety or OSHA regulations.

"When employers shirk their responsibility to keep the workplace free of such hazards, the results can be tragic for workers and their families," said OSHA area director Mark Hysell, Eau Claire, Wis.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to appeal them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.