Safety Hazards Lead to $141,100 in OSHA Fines for Dairy Plant

A Lowville, N.Y., dairy plant's failure to address a wide range of safety hazards, including providing fall protection and first-aid kits for workers, has resulted in $141,100 in fines from OSHA.

Lewis County Dairy Corp. was cited for a total of 36 alleged willful, serious and other violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following a comprehensive inspection conducted between January and July by OSHA's Syracuse-area office. The inspection was conducted as part of the Syracuse office's local emphasis program, focusing on hazards in food processing facilities.

"Protecting the safety and health of workers is a primary concern and responsibility of employers and the failure to do so in this case is unacceptable," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "Widespread failure to supply basic safeguards is unacceptable and will bring significant penalties."

The two willful citations, which account for $76,000 of the fines, concern failure to supply fall protection for workers exposed to falls of up to 12 feet while working on milk trucks, and failing to provide first aid kits to workers who may be injured on the job. In the citation, OSHA's Syracuse office stressed the importance of having first-aid kits available in less populated areas of New York. A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

The 33 serious citations encompass unguarded machinery, electrical hazards, blocked exit access, lack of an employee alarm system, defective ladders, unguarded open-sided floors, lack of personal protective equipment, defective stairways, lack of a confined space program, deficient fire extinguisher training, no hazard communication training and program, and deficiencies in the program designed to prevent the accidental startup of equipment during maintenance. Fines of $63,700 are proposed for these items. An additional fine of $1,400 is proposed for another citation for failing to maintain a log of workplace injuries and illnesses.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, 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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