Region 5 News Release: 10-544-CHI
May 5, 2010
Contact: Scott Allen
Milk Specialties Co. in Whitehall, Wis., agrees to pay $535,000 in penalties after US Labor Department's OSHA safety and health investigation
WHITEHALL, Wis. – Milk Specialties Co. in Whitehall has agreed to pay $535,000 in penalties as part of a legal settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration after being cited with willful, repeat and serious violations concerning combustible dust hazards, untrained employees working in potentially dangerous areas and a lack of proper permits for working in confined spaces.
"We are pleased that Milk Specialties Co. has recognized and agreed to abate the health and safety violations addressed in the settlement," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "Our number one concern is to ensure the safety and welfare of all workers. With this agreement, I am confident the company is moving in the right direction."
OSHA began a December 2008 inspection in response to a complaint alleging a variety of safety hazards at the company's whey processing plant. Willful citations were issued for the employer's failure to comply with OSHA's confined space entry and control of hazardous energy requirements. Untrained employees entered confined spaces and performed maintenance and cleaning on powered equipment without protection from various hazards. Penalties for the nine willful violations total $504,000. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.
Seventeen serious citations, with penalties totaling $21,855, address combustible dust and electrical hazards; lack of exit route lighting and signage; lack of confined space evaluations; uninspected fire extinguishers; and untrained and uncertified powered industrial truck operators, among other issues. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm can result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.
Four repeat violations with penalties totaling $9,145 address the guarding of floor and wall openings, ladders and respiratory protection, and other issues addressed in previous inspections of this company.
Milk Specialties has been inspected by OSHA 15 times since 1974, including four inspections in Wisconsin between 2006 and 2008, with citations resulting from many of the same safety and health hazards cited in the most recent inspection.
The company engages in the research, development and manufacture of protein and fat products for nutritional applications and feeding regimes that include products such as pasteurized milk extenders, spray-dried protein encapsulated fats, dried whey permeates, and condensed whey and liquid whey products.
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 assure 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.
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit http://www.dol.gov/compliance.