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Region 7 News Release 10-805-KAN
June 15, 2010
Contact: Rich Kulczewski
Phone: 303-844-1302
E-mail: kulczewski.richard@dol.gov

US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Loup Valley Alfalfa
of Burwell, Neb., for violations of OSH Act
Employees exposed to grain engulfment hazards

BURWELL, Neb. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Loup Valley Alfalfa Inc. of Burwell for alleged violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, following a December 2009 inspection of the grain handling facility. The agency has proposed $293,000 in penalties against the company.

"This employer had no business conducting work inside the grain bins without taking protective measures to ensure that its employees were working in a safe environment," said Charles Adkins, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo.

OSHA's inspection found seven alleged willful, 16 alleged serious and three alleged other-than-serious violations. The willful violations stem from the company's failure to provide fall protection on open-sided platforms; operation of mechanical equipment, known as augers, while employees worked within the grain bin; failure to test the atmosphere prior to grain bin entry; instructing employees to walk down the grain; lack of a retrieval system for grain bin entries; lack of an attendant during bin entry operations, and fugitive grain dust that exceeded one-eighth inch depth. OSHA issues a willful violation when an employer exhibits plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

The serious violations include deficient guardrail systems; unapproved powered industrial truck modifications; a lack of inspections on mechanical and safety control equipment; energized electric wiring left exposed, in disrepair, and/or inappropriately used; a lack of/or deficient machine guarding; and a failure to label hazardous chemical containers. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which an employer knew or should have known.

Loup Valley Alfalfa has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Omaha, Neb., or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-6742.

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

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