Region 6 News Release: USDL-OSHA-99-42-4-7
Wednesday, April 7, 1999
Contact: Diana Petterson or Beverly Sepulveda
PHONE : (214) 767-4776, ext. 222 or 221
OSHA PROPOSES $62,750 IN PENALTIES AGAINST DALLAS TORTILLA MANUFACTURER
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited LaFavorita, Inc. in Dallas, Texas, with safety violations for allegedly exposing employees to electrical and equipment servicing hazards and has proposed penalties of $62,750, announced the U.S. Department of Labor.
The alleged violations were discovered at La Favorita, Inc., a tortilla manufacturer that supplies tortillas to local restaurants, during an Oct. 10, 1998 fatality investigation when an employee was electrocuted.
"It was the company's practice to clip off the safety features on plugs of portable equipment so that employees could move the equipment around and plug into outlets that were not rated for the plug," said Kathryn Delaney Dallas OSHA area director. "The employee had finished work on one piece of equipment and plugged in another piece of equipment. Because the equipment was not properly grounded, it became energized. When he touched that piece of energized equipment, he was electrocuted."
Additionally, employees were found to perform service work on equipment that was still energized, resulting in employee injury.
When repairs or maintenance work is performed on equipment, OSHA regulations require that employees be protected by de-energizing the equipment through a systematic energy control program. That systematic approach to energy control is commonly referred to as a "Lockout/Tagout Program."
OSHA cited the company with two willful and three serious violations.
The two willful violations, which carry proposed penalties of $56,000, were for employee exposures to electrical hazards created by the removal of grounding mechanisms and for failing to record information regarding a severe injury resulting from work on energized equipment. A willful violation exists under the OSH Act where evidence shows either an intentional violation of the Act or plain indifference to its requirements.
The three serious violations were for safety hazards related to the absence of an energy control, or "Lockout/Tagout" program, for use of mismatched electrical hardware and for failing to train employees on safe electrical work habits. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
La Favorita has 15 working days, from receipt of the citations, to comply or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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