OSHA cites Great Western Products Co. for repeat violations
after investigations at Assumption, Ill., plant
Violations include failing to train workers in grain-handling safety
ASSUMPTION, Ill. – Great Western Products Co. has been cited for 33 safety and health violations, including three repeat and 24 serious violations. The citations follow three inspections by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and carry penalties of $93,250. Twelve of the serious violations involve grain handling standards at the company's Assumption facility, which handles raw grain before processing and packaging it for distribution as popcorn. The violations included exposing workers to engulfment hazards in bins storing corn.
"Engulfment, falls and entanglement are real hazards in grain bins, and exposing workers to those dangers is not acceptable," said Tom Bielema, OSHA's area director in Peoria. "Great Western Products is responsible for maintaining a safe and healthful workplace. The lack of commitment to worker safety and health must be addressed."
Three repeat safety violations involve failing to implement and maintain a written hazard communication program, failing to provide workers with hazardous chemicals training in their work areas, and failing to conduct periodic inspections of and train workers on energy control procedures. OSHA issues repeat violations if an employer previously was cited for the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The same violations were cited in May 2010.
The 12 serious safety violations relating to OSHA's grain handling standards include: failing to provide fall protection to workers walking on grain bin roofs; failing to eliminate engulfment hazards; and failing to provide training, maintenance and housekeeping. The company was also cited for 12 additional serious violations including a lack of machine guarding, failing to provide medical evaluations for workers required to wear respirators, and modifying forklifts without manufacturer approval.
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.
Six other-than-serious violations include failing to: implement a respiratory protection program, certify that a workplace hazard assessment had been performed, and certify that forklift operators were trained. OSHA also found electrical safety violations such as flexible cords in lieu of fixed wiring and unsecure electrical control panels. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
Great Western Products Co. produces and distributes concession foods, popcorn, cotton candy sugar, snow cone syrup, paper and plastic products, and cleaning solutions.
In the wake of record deaths and injuries rates in 2010, OSHA developed a local emphasis program for grain handling facilities focusing on the grain and feed industry's six major hazards. These are engulfment, falls, auger entanglement, "struck by," combustible dust explosion and electrocution hazards. Illinois is one of 25 states in which OSHA has implemented the emphasis program. For more information see www.osha.gov/SLTC/grainhandling/index.html.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and notice of proposed penalties to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. If the company does not file or contest within that period, it must abate the cited conditions within the period ordered in the citations and pay the proposed penalties.
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 Peoria Office at 309-589-7033.
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, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.