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Region 2 News Release: 12-776-NEW/BOS 2012-068
May 1, 2012
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2075
Email: fitzgerald.edmund@dol.gov

US Labor Department's OSHA cites Sorrento Lactalis, proposes $241,000
in fines for repeat and serious hazards at Buffalo, NY, plant

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Sorrento Lactalis Inc. for 13 alleged repeat and serious violations of workplace health and safety standards at its Buffalo production facility. The cheese manufacturer faces a total of $241,000 in proposed fines. An inspection by OSHA's Buffalo Area Office identified several deficiencies in the plant's process safety management program, a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers must follow to proactively address hazards associated with processes and equipment involving large amounts of hazardous chemicals. The chemical in this case was anhydrous ammonia, which is used in the plant's refrigeration system.

"The stringent and comprehensive requirements of OSHA's PSM standard are designed to prevent a catastrophic incident, such as the uncontrolled release of highly hazardous chemicals, by having employers effectively evaluate, anticipate, address and prevent hazardous conditions associated with processes utilizing those chemicals," said Arthur Dube, OSHA's area director for western New York. "Full and effective adherence to the standard's requirements is critical to guarding the safety and health of employees."

Specifically, OSHA found a lack of procedures and tests to maintain the ongoing mechanical integrity of process equipment, no written procedures to manage changes to the equipment, incomplete written operating procedures and a failure to document that process equipment complies with recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices. These conditions resulted in the issuance of five repeat citations with $192,500 in proposed penalties. 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 cited Sorrento Lactalis in 2008 and 2011 for similar hazards at its Nampa, Idaho, plant.

Eight serious citations with $48,500 in proposed fines were issued for not conducting equipment inspections consistent with good engineering practices, not updating process safety information and using an unsecured electrical cable, as well as a lack of "lockout/tagout" procedures, inspections and training to isolate the energy sources of machinery to prevent unintended activation during maintenance work. 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.

Detailed information on OSHA's PSM standard is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/processsafetymanagement/index.html.

"One method of enhancing workers' safety is developing and maintaining an effective illness and injury prevention program in which management and employees work together to proactively identify and prevent hazardous conditions," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

The citations to Sorrento Lactalis can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/SorrentoLactalisinc_316029602_0423_12.pdf.*

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings to 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 Buffalo office at 716-551-3053.

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.

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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 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.


* Accessibility Assistance Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.


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