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News Release USDL: 97-108
Wednesday, March 26, 1997
Contact: Al Belsky, (202)-219-8151
Hanover Foods Faces Nearly $500,000 Fine For Alleged Safety And Health Violations
Hanover Foods Corporation is facing a $498,000 fine for refusing to correct job safety hazards that caused two amputations last year at its Clayton, Del., facility, according to citations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
A food processing manufacturer headquartered in Hanover, Pa., the company prepares and packages frozen vegetables and dinner entrees. Nationwide, Hanover employs approximately 4,000 workers; about 400 people work at the Clayton plant during its busiest production periods.
Hanover Foods is being cited for more than 30 violations including failure to properly safeguard machinery, failure to inspect and test safety relief valves and lack of employee training in safety and health procedures.
"There is a long and sorry record of violations at Hanover Foods' Clayton facility," said Greg Watchman, acting assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "By now this company should know full well that its offenses put workers at risk and cause unnecessary pain and suffering. Hanover cannot be allowed to continue such callous disregard for its workers' well-being."
In 1994 Hanover was cited for serious violations of respiratory protection and emergency response standards. The following year the company was cited for serious violations of lockout/tagout procedures that guard against equipment starting up while employees are performing maintenance or service work, as well as problems involving respiratory protection, emergency response and safety management standards.
A follow-up inspection revealed continued problems, and in December 1996 OSHA issued two willful citations totaling $140,000 for lack of machine guarding and lockout/tagout procedures that caused two employees to suffer finger amputations. That inspection was triggered when a local ambulance service alerted OSHA concerning the amputations.
Citations are now being issued for $174,000 for three instances where Hanover allegedly failed to correct hazards discovered in previous inspections; for $245,000 for six willful violations; $44,000 for 13 serious violations; and $46,500 for one repeat violation. Three additional violations carry no proposed penalty.
Willful violations included an inadequate process safety management program that should have been designed to prevent catastrophic release of ammonia from the refrigeration system, failure to develop proper written operating procedures, failure to implement a mechanical integrity program and deficiencies in the company's emergency response program.
The company has 15 days to contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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