The Western Sugar Cooperative in Montana cited by US Labor Department's
OSHA for 17 safety violations; $193,300 in proposed fines
BILLINGS, Mont. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited The Western Sugar Cooperative in Billings, Mont., with 17 violations of safety and health standards, including 12 serious and four repeat. The Denver-based sugar producer faces $193,300 in proposed fines following a January inspection conducted by OSHA's Billings Area Office at the Billings manufacturing plant under the agency's National Emphasis Program for Site Specific Targeting.
The four repeat safety violations involve hazards associated with excessive accumulations of combustible coal dust, unguarded elevated platforms, lack of signs on permit spaces and unguarded horizontal shafting. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. OSHA has inspected this employer 16 times since February 2008, finding 30 violations at work sites in Montana, Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming.
"This employer continues to put its workforce in jeopardy by neglecting to comply with standards and implement safeguards," said Jeff Funke, director of OSHA's Billings Area Office. "OSHA will hold employers accountable, especially those who repeatedly fail to ensure workers' safety and health."
OSHA also cited The Western Sugar Cooperative for 12 serious safety violations, including unsafe use of flexible cords and electrical equipment; open junction boxes; inadequate fire exits; failure to provide standard railings on stairways; unguarded points of operation and rotating parts; unguarded vertical shafting and projecting shaft ends; and overhead crane hook deficiencies. 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. In addition, OSHA inspectors found one other-than-serious safety violation for the employer's failure to provide workers with basic information on respirators.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/The_Western_Sugar_Cooperative_879483_0725_13.pdf*.
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 Billings office at 406-247-7494.
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 or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 242-693-7828 or TTY 242-693-7755.
* Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.