A cross-section of safety hazards at a Silver Lake, N.H., manufacturing plant have resulted in a total of $62,500 in proposed fines from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Chick Packaging of New England Inc., which manufactures custom wood packaging products, was cited for 20 alleged repeat and serious safety violations following an OSHA inspection that began on December 20, 2006. The inspection was conducted under an OSHA program which targets workplaces with high instances of lost workdays, restricted duty or job transfers due to occupational injuries or illnesses.

"OSHA's inspection identified a variety of safety hazards associated with manufacturing, all of which must be effectively addressed to prevent potential injuries," said Rosemarie Ohar, the agency's area director in New Hampshire. "Left uncorrected, these conditions expose employees to the possibility of explosion, lacerations, amputations, burns, electrocution, 'struck-by' injuries or death."

The inspection found that the plant had not developed and trained employees in specific procedures to shut down and lock out the power sources of machinery to prevent their accidental startup during maintenance. This resulted in the issuance of two repeat citations, carrying $25,000 in proposed fines, since the company had been cited for similar hazards at its Itasca, Ill., facility in May 2004.

A total of $37,500 in fines was proposed for 18 serious citations. These encompassed unguarded machinery, exposed live electrical parts, uninsulated steam pipes, lack of employee training for safe electrical work practices, lack of training in fighting incipient stage fires, defective forklifts, failure to evaluate forklift operators' ability to operate the machines, lack of personal protective equipment, allowing flammable wood dust to accumulate around machinery, and a dust collection system lacking adequate protections against ignition of its flammable contents.

OSHA issues repeat citations when an employer has been cited for substantially similar violations in the past and those citations have become final. 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 the citations to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.