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Food Warehouse that OSHA Called a ‘Death Trap’ Agrees to Improve Safety

March 31, 2015
This story has been updated to include comments from Unicold.

After two years of fighting OSHA safety citations, Unicold Corp. has agreed to fix the problems identified at its Honolulu site by OSHA and pay the fines associated with the safety violations.

OSHA in February 2013 found nearly every door at the facility blocked, locked or inaccessible, and noted the use of ammonia as a refrigerant, among other hazards.

"The department will not allow Unicold or other employers to allow dangerous conditions that put workers in a potential death trap," said Janet Herold, the department's regional solicitor in San Francisco.

"Luck is the only reason that we are not investigating a multi-fatality disaster here. The agency will spend time and resources to protect workers and prevent the intolerable and unacceptable from happening."

After its the inspection, OSHA cited Unicold with dozens of safety violations and assessed $197,000 in fines, which the company contested. It took two years worth of court filings before Unicold agreed to fix the hazards and pay the fines.

"We dispute the majority of the citations, but finally withdrew our notice of contest simply because the litigation expenses would exceed the penalties," Unicold's vice president and COO Darryl Kawano said in a statement.

According to Kawano, Unicold fully cooperated with federal and state officials and voluntarily implemented immediate improvements at the facility after the inspection.

"Even though it took OSHA six months to issue citations after completing its inspection, Unicold had already begun to implement a comprehensive program of capital and safety improvements totaling more than $495,000," Kawano said.

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