US Department of Labor's OSHA fines Emil's Pizza in Watertown, Wis., more than
$76,000 for exposing workers to oxygen deficient atmosphere, other violations
WATERTOWN, Wis. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Emil's Pizza Inc. with nine alleged safety and health violations, including one willful violation for exposing workers to an oxygen deficient atmosphere at its frozen pizza manufacturing plant in Watertown. Proposed fines total $76,300.
"Employers are responsible for knowing the hazards that exist in their workplace and training workers in proper safety precautions such as air monitoring and respirator use," said Kim Stille, director of OSHA's Madison Area Office. "OSHA is committed to protecting workers, especially when employers fail to do so."
OSHA initiated an inspection of the plant in June following a complaint. A willful health violation was issued for exposing workers to an oxygen deficient environment when processing pizzas in the liquid nitrogen cryogenic freezer. The freezer creates the potential for an oxygen deficient atmosphere due to the buildup of nitrogen gas in the production area. No injuries or illness were reported as a result of the conditions. 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.
The company also has been cited for eight serious violations including three health violations for failing to implement a respirator program, train workers on how to use air monitoring equipment and train workers on the hazards of liquid nitrogen.
Five serious safety violations are for failing to use the guard on the packing machine, which exposed workers to burns; train employees in evacuation procedures; and review an emergency action plan, including developing a procedure to account for personnel after an evacuation, clear exit routes and maintain floors in a dry condition. 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.
Emil's Pizza Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal 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 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 Madison office at 608-441-5388.
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.
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.