OSHA Proposes Fines Against Texas Employer For Safety Violations

OSHA cited Michael Angelo's Gourmet Food Inc., Austin, Texas, with\r\n34 alleged safety violations and proposed penalties totaling\r\n$161,550.

OSHA cited Michael Angelo''s Gourmet Food Inc., Austin, Texas, with 34 alleged safety violations and proposed penalties totaling $161,550.

Michael Angelo''s Gourmet Foods is a frozen food manufacturer that employs approximately 615 workers in North Austin.

The alleged safety violations were discovered during an OSHA inspection that began in August 2000 by a referral from an OSHA health inspector after a release of ammonia at the plant.

In a separate health investigation, OSHA issued $220,950 in proposed penalties to the company on Feb. 5 for 21 alleged health violations resulting from the ammonia release.

These citations were issued to the company in response to an evacuation of an ammonia release that resulted in 12 food production workers requiring medical attention.

The recent citations include two willful, 20 alleged serious and 12 other-than-serious safety violations.

The two willful violations involved failing to provide training and proper lockout/tagout procedures during cleaning and maintaining of machines to ensure that the energy sources from the machines could not be restarted; and failing to properly guard moving parts of machinery.

The company was also cited with 20 alleged serious violations, some of which include failing to follow federal regulations regarding process safety management of the ammonia system, control of hazardous energy while servicing machines, machine guarding, electrical hazards and other safety issues.

"OSHA investigators found machine safety interlocks deliberately bypassed in order to speed up production and maintenance work on machinery that was not properly locked out of service putting employees at risk for amputations and other serious injuries," said Paul Brantley, OSHA area director in Austin. "Preventable injuries were occurring in the plant and the employer did not take prompt corrective action to reduce these injuries."

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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