Tropicana Plant Will Keep VPP Star Despite OSHA Fines, Willful Citations

After being cited for exposing workers to serious safety hazards at its Bradenton, Fla. processing plant an OSHA VPP Star site Tropicana Beverages North America has consented to pay more than $164,000 in fines, OSHA said April 13.

OSHA issued two willful citations and 10 serious citations to Tropicana as the result of an investigation that began in October 2005 after two mechanics were seriously burned by a flash fire that occurred during maintenance operations at the beverage company's Bradenton facility.

The agency issued two willful citations, with proposed penalties of $126,000, for failing to take precautions in preventing the ignition of flammable vapors produced by solvent used to clean sludge from compressors. The company also received a willful citation for failing to enforce its own safety policy and OSHA requirements to provide employees with fall-arrest equipment when exposed to fall hazards of up to 25 feet during compressor maintenance operations.

OSHA issued serious citations for, among other things, failing to establish and implement:

  • A "management of change" program;
  • An employee safety program;
  • Written procedures on how to maintain the integrity of equipment; and
  • Safety assessments to prevent employee exposure to chemical, hot work, confined space and electrical hazards.

After 'Wake-Up Call,' Tropicana Immediately Corrected Problems

"I have met with officials of Tropicana and parent company PepsiCo and believe this event was a wake-up call," said Cindy Coe Laseter, OSHA's Atlanta regional administrator.

Tropicana immediately corrected the safety problems that were going on at the Bradenton facility and has implemented strict operating procedures to prevent a reoccurrence, said Mike Haycock, Tropicana's vice president of operations.

"Tropicana has successfully resolved this matter with OSHA and is moving forward with improving upon our long-time excellent safety record," he said. "Our plant has an incidence rate that is far lower than others in the industry."

Tropicana Will Keep VPP Star

Tropicana Beverages North America's Bradenton plant has been a Star site in OSHA's VPP program since February 2000. Prior to 1998, though, the plant was cited for 265 violations after 41 inspections. After receiving the VPP award and prior to the October incident, the plant had been cited for only four violations.

The Tropicana Bradenton facility will maintain its VPP Star status as long as it renews its safety efforts, Laseter said.

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