US Labor Department's OSHA cites Massachusetts wholesale food
manufacturer/distributor for energy control, ammonia and other hazards
Progressive Gourmet Inc. faces $73,400 in fines
ANDOVER, Mass. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Progressive Gourmet Inc. for alleged repeat and serious safety violations at a Wilmington, Mass., production facility. The wholesale food manufacturer and distributor for food service and catering industries faces a total of $73,400 in fines following inspections, which started in September 2102 by OSHA's Andover Area Office in response to employee complaints.
OSHA found that the facility lacked adequate procedures to prevent the unintended startup of machinery, such as cookers, ovens and conveyors, while employees performed service and maintenance on the equipment. The company also failed to provide all affected employees with information and training on how to power down and lock out the machines' power sources before performing maintenance. As a result of these latest conditions, the company was cited for two repeat violations with $55,000 in proposed fines. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Similar violations were cited at this location in 2008.
OSHA also issued Progressive Gourmet three serious citations with $18,400 in fines for lack of routine inspections and maintenance to ensure safe operation of the plant's anhydrous ammonia refrigeration system, insufficient space between stored materials and overhead piping containing ammonia to allow for safe access to stored materials, and slipping and tripping hazards from wet work floors. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
"Left uncorrected, these conditions expose employees to a release of ammonia, slips and falls and to being caught in unexpectedly activated machinery," said Jeffrey A. Erskine, OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties in Massachusetts. "Prompt, effective and ongoing corrective action is necessary to eliminate these hazards and prevent their recurrence."
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Andover office at 978-837-4460.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.