Workplace Safety and Health Hazards Prompt OSHA Fines of $183,000

A Philadelphia produce company could end up paying OSHA a pile of green, and we're not talking about lettuce. Procacci Brothers Sales (PBS) Corp. was fined $183,600 by OSHA for safety and health violations that could cause serious injury or death to employees, including an insufficient process safety management program and the lack of personal protective equipment.

Procacci Brothers Sales (PBS) Corp. is a wholesaler and produce distributor that employs approximately 700 workers. OSHA initiated an inspection on Jan. 6, 2003 as part of its Site Specific Targeting Plan for industries with high injury and illness rates.

"OSHA's job is to help prevent workplace accidents and protect workers," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "We are particularly vigilant when workplaces have experienced high rates of injuries and illnesses, and we will not hesitate to enforce the law."

According to Phyllis Kyner, area director of the Philadelphia OSHA office, the company was cited for 65 serious violations with a total penalty $183,600 and 11 other-than-serious violations which carry no penalty.

"The company had not developed what is required for the very large anhydrous ammonia refrigeration system operating at their facility. This type of system requires specific hazard analysis, training, maintenance, management and emergency planning and response," said Kyner.

Other serious violations at the facility involved emergency exits, machine guarding, electrical shock hazards, lack of fire protection, and unsafe material handling and storage.

"All of the cited hazards increase the likelihood of a workplace accident. OSHA is seeking prompt abatement of hazards to protect the company's employees," Kyner said.

Serious citations are defined as those where there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer or should have known of the hazard

Procacci Brothers Sales has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The company may also agree to pay the fines and comply with the safety standards or request a meeting with OSHA's Philadelphia area office director

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