July 13, 2015
Refrigeration company puts temporary and permanent workers at risk of
ammonia exposure due to poor maintenance of coolant systems
Employer name: Commercial Warehousing Inc.
Inspection site: 102 Industrial Boulevard, Winter Haven, Florida 33880
Date citations issued: The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued the employer citations on July 10, 2015. The January 2015 inspection was initiated as part of the agency's National Emphasis Program for Chemical Plants.
Inspection findings: OSHA cited the refrigeration warehousing company for 13 safety violations, including one willful violation, for failing to follow the industry recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices for insulation removal and for failing to test the ammonia refrigeration system piping and pressure vessels. Twelve additional serious violations involve failing to maintain accurate and complete piping and instrument diagrams of the ammonia refrigeration systems, not completing actions items on the process safety hazard analysis and not training permanent and temporary workers on the emergency evacuation plan and alarm system for fire and ammonia releases.
Commercial Warehousing employs temporary workers from two staffing agencies, Certitemp and PRT Staffing. The staffing companies do not supervise employees. Commercial Warehousing is in charge of managing and has direct control of the temporary workers. OSHA did not issue citations to the staffing agencies.
Proposed penalties: $116,100
Quote: "Exposure to high levels of ammonia in the air can be irritating to the skin, eyes, throat and lungs. Lung damage and death may occur after exposure to very high concentrations of ammonia," said Les Grove, OSHA's area director in Tampa. "Commercial Warehousing has known for several years that testing of the refrigeration piping and pressure vessels was not being done as specified in company maintenance policy but management chose to downplay the seriousness of the hazard due to cost, and in the process, risked the lives and health of its workers."
The citations can be viewed at: http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/CommercialWarehousingInc_1019448.pdf
Commercial Warehousing refrigerates various food products and citrus extract/oils and employs approximately 200 workers. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference 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 amputations, losses of an eye, 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 Tampa Area Office at 813-626-1177.
Release Number: 15-1359-ATL (209)
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The department's Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).