"OSHA standards are designed to protect workers from hazards, and they must be strictly followed to be effective," said John Deifer, OSHA's area director in Savannah. "AmeriCold Logistics did not assess the hazards in its workplace and neglected to develop procedures and documentation to prevent their workers from being exposed to dangers associated with commercial refrigeration systems."
Among the 15 serious citations issued to the company were ones for failure to plan properly for emergencies such as fire or accidental release of ammonia; provide employees with information about hazardous chemicals and processes at the facility; develop and implement a respiratory protection program for employees required to wear respirators; provide personal protective equipment, such as gloves and eye glasses; and develop and implement lockout/tagout procedures that would render equipment inoperable during maintenance. These citations carry $31,450 in proposed penalties.
The company also received one repeat citation with a $12,500 proposed penalty, for failing to provide a quick-drench eyewash and shower for employees working with sodium hydroxide. Deifer said the company has been cited within the past three years for a similar condition at another location, and those citations have become final orders of the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
In 1992, OSHA issued a standard on process safety management to protect employees from the hazards associated with certain chemicals, such as ammonia. The standard requires companies to develop, implement and update plans analyzing potential risks, to outline procedures to minimize the risks, and to train employees on how to avoid exposure.
OSHA has a compliance assistance program, separate and distinct from its enforcement program, to help employers in complying with these standards and regulations, Deifer noted.
The company has 15 working days to contest the most recent OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.