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Region 1 News Release: BOS 2001-009
Tuesday, January 16, 2001
Contact: John M. Chavez
PHONE: (617) 565-2075
OSHA CITES BIDDEFORD, MAINE, EMPLOYER FOR ALLEGED WORKPLACE SAFETY VIOLATIONS; PROPOSES $108,000 IN PENALTIES AGAINST INTERSTATE BRANDS CORP.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor has cited Interstate Brands Corporation of Biddeford, Maine, for alleged serious, repeat and other violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and has proposed penalties totaling $108,000 for those alleged violations.
According to C. William Freeman, OSHA area director for Maine, his office began an inspection of the company's facilities on September 8, 2000, in response to a formal complaint filed by the union representing the company's employees. The company produces bakery products such as bread, rolls, donuts and pies under the brand names of Nissen, Hostess and Wonder.
Freeman noted that the inspection revealed a number of hazards in the plant, ranging from open-sided floors and unguarded floor holes, to unguarded machinery and serious deficiencies in the control of hazardous energy.
Consequently, the company is being cited for the following alleged workplace safety violations:
- Fifteen alleged SERIOUS violations, carrying proposed penalties totaling $58,000 for: unguarded floor holes, open sided floors or platforms and runways, open sided runways or platforms above dangerous equipment also not guarded by standard railings, failure to develop specific procedures for shutting down, isolating and securing equipment to be locked out, failure to provide adequate training in the purpose, function and use of lock-out/tag-out procedures, and failure to certify employee training in these procedures, unguarded rotating parts on lathes, unguarded bandsaw blade, unguarded rotating horizontal and vertical shafts, shaft ends extended too far, unguarded couplings, unguarded chains and belt drives, horizontal mixer not equipped with a cover over the bowl at all times agitator was in motion, undersides of conveyors over aisle ways were not enclosed, employees exposed to live electrical parts and bulbs not protected from breakage.
- Two alleged REPEAT violations, including proposed penalties totaling $50,000 for: failure to perform and certify periodic inspections of the hazardous energy control procedure, and failure to utilize a procedure affording employees with a level of protection equal to that provided by a personal lockout device when servicing of equipment was performed by a crew of workers. [The company was previously cited for similar violations in citations issued on March 16, 1998.]
- Two alleged other-than-serious violations with no proposed penalties for: a brake not properly set on a powered industrial vehicle and a missing nameplate on an electric motor.
A serious violation is defined by OSHA as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard. A repeat violation is defined as one where, upon reinspection, a substantially similar violation is found. An other-than-serious violation is a condition which would probably not cause death or serious physical harm, but would have a direct and immediate impact on the safety and health of employees.
Noting that Interstate Brands employs 620 workers at its Biddeford facility and more than 34,000 employees nationwide, Freeman said: "This is a big employer with lots of previous OSHA history. The company is well aware of the safety and health standards which apply to its operations and is more than aware of the precautions it should be taking to protect its workers. There is simply no excuse for the hazards we found in this facility."
Freeman urged Maine employers and employees with questions regarding safety and health standards to contact either of the OSHA offices in Augusta or Bangor. He added that OSHA's toll-free nationwide hotline -- 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742) -- may be used to report workplace accidents and fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially those situations which occur outside of normal business hours.
OSHA is empowered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to issue standards and rules requiring employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces and jobsites, and to assure through workplace inspections that those standards are followed.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (617) 565-2072. TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) Message Referral Phone: 800-347-8029.
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