March 31, 2016
OSHA cites Russell Stover Candies after ammonia release shuts plant
Candy manufacturer faces $193K in fines, placed in Severe Violator Enforcement Program
IOLA, Kan. - As alarms sounded, hundreds of workers evacuated a candy manufacturing plant when an air-conditioning unit pipe failed and released about 22 pounds of anhydrous ammonia into the air throughout the Iola facility. No workers were injured in the incident which closed the plant for more than two hours.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the Sept. 23, 2015, incident at Russell Stover Candies Inc.'s Kansas facility and cited the company with three repeat, 14 serious and two other-than-serious safety violations. On March 31, OSHA proposed penalties of $193,600. The agency has also placed Russell Stover in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
The violations involve OSHA's process safety management standards which contain requirements for the management processes using highly hazardous chemicals. One such chemical is anhydrous ammonia, widely used as a refrigerant in industrial facilities. Ammonia can be a health hazard because it is corrosive to the skin, eyes and lungs. It is a flammable vapor, and can be fatal if inhaled.
"When highly hazardous chemicals are not properly controlled there is a potential for an accidental release at any time which could result in a tragedy," said Judy Freeman, OSHA's area director in Wichita. "Employers, such as Russell Stover, who use ammonia and other hazardous chemicals in their production process need to comply with recognized engineering practices, test equipment and train workers on safe operating procedures."
View current citations here.
Headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, Russell Stover Candies is one of the nation's oldest chocolate companies and leading manufacturers of pralines and seasonal candies. The Lindt & Sprüngli Group, a German-based candy manufacturer of the Lindt, Whitman's and Ghirardelli brands, owns Russell Stover Candies. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Wichita, 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, eye loss, 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 Wichita office at 316-269-6644.
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.
Release Number: 16-687-KAN
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