The Cows Came Home: OHA Cites Dairy for 47 Safety and Health Violations

OSHA has cited Englewood, Colo.-based Meadow Gold Dairies and Denver-based subcontractor Tolin Mechanical for 47 violations safety and health violations, with penalties totaling $326,300.

The citations are part of a programmed inspection conducted under OSHA’s Site-Specific Targeting program for high-hazard worksites as well as its national emphasis program on facilities with hazardous chemicals. According to OSHA, the facilities potentially could have been in danger of a catastrophic ammonia leak.

OSHA cited Meadow Gold Dairies, a subsidiary of Dean Foods, for two alleged willful, one alleged repeat, 35 alleged serious and five other-than-serious violations. Proposed fines total $300,300.

“Meadow Gold, as part of a large national corporation, is well aware of the requirements of OSHA standards,” said John Healy, OSHA area director in Englewood. “The violations, which are related to improper management of the anhydrous ammonia system, demonstrate a lax attitude towards a potentially catastrophic atmospheric release.”

The willful violations involve employee exposure to a potential hazardous release of anhydrous ammonia due to a failure to implement a required mechanical integrity program. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health. Other violations issued to Meadow Gold Dairies include:

  • A repeat violation related to hazards associated with inadequate procedures for de-energizing equipment prior to performing maintenance activity. Meadow Gold Dairies was cited for this same violation in 2010 at the same facility.
  • Serious violations for improper preventive maintenance of the anhydrous ammonia system, machine guarding hazards, fall hazards, inadequate personal protective equipment and electrical hazards.
  • Other-than-serious violations include late recording of injury and illnesses on the OSHA 300 log, and various process safety management issues.

Tolin Mechanical was cited for four serious violations carrying $26,000 in proposed penalties. The violations involved employees not being properly trained on emergency procedures and lacking adequate personal protective equipment while doing electrical work.

The companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with Healy or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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