Massachusetts Dairy's Got Milk, Safety Hazards

A Lynn, Mass. dairy with a higher-than-average record of workdays lost to injuries exposed workers to falls, unguarded machinery and other significant safety hazards, according to citations issued by OSHA. Proposed fines total $63,000.

Garelick Farms of Lynn (formerly known as West Lynn Creamery) was cited by OSHA for a total of 27 alleged violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act at its milk processing facility.

The citations and fines resulted from an inspection conducted from May 6 to Aug. 6 under OSHA's Site Specific Targeting Program, which focuses inspections on workplaces where the number of workdays missed by employees due to injuries is higher than average.

"Safety standards require employers to protect workers against fall hazards," said Richard Fazzio, OSHA's area director for Essex and Middlesex Counties. "Employees at Garelick Farms were found to be in danger of falling into unguarded pits and tanks, floor holes and unguarded open-sided work platforms."

The inspection also found numerous instances of unguarded nip points and rotating parts on machines; lack of an exit in the dairy's receiving area; missing exit signs; improper fit-testing for respirators; inadequate lockout/tagout precautions; improper storage of flammable liquids; and inadequate emergency response training, equipment and documentation.

A total of 21 alleged serious violations of safety standards accounted for $60,000 of the proposed fines. A serious violation is cited when death or serious physical harm could be caused by a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The company also faces a $3,000 fine for six alleged other-than-serious violations. These include incomplete or unavailable illness and injury logs, unavailable audiometric testing records, lack of eye and face protection, failure to inspect energy control procedures and excess air pressure in a cleaning hose. An other-than-serious violation is a condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, 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.

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