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Upstate Niagara Milk Coop In OSHA Net – Faces $200,300 In Fines

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OSHA has cited the Niagara Milk Cooperatives Rochester plant, for inadequate safeguards on the ammonia used for refrigeration.  OSHA has found it guilty of 12 violations and the flavoured milk products manufacturer now faces a total of $200,300 in proposed fines.

OSHA’s Buffalo office which investigated the plant, found many discrepancies that were not in keeping with OSHA’s safety requirements that company’s must compulsorily follow. OSHA is particularly careful and insistent that companies address problems that could occur, with processes that involve the handling and usage of large amounts of hazardous chemicals. Niagara was using anhydrous ammonia in its refrigeration system and OSHA found it to be transgressing its safety regulations.

Arthur Dube, OSHA’s area director for western New York said, “The requirements of OSHA’s PSM standard are stringent and comprehensive because failure to effectively evaluate, anticipate, address and prevent hazardous conditions associated with a process can lead to a catastrophic incident.”

The violations that the company was found guilty of included, operating system not reviewed on a regular basis, recommendations by the process analysis team were neither implemented nor documented, the PSM program did not have written procedures to ensure that the refrigeration equipment was maintained and preserved in good condition. Other citations included not keeping an entrance clear and obstructing it, making evacuation difficult in case of an emergency, inadequate height of a venting pipe and lack of safety procedures for workers working in cramped places, like dairy tanks. The company’s wiring methods, electrical equipment and installations were also considered not safe enough by OSHA.

Mike Stratton, assistant area director for OSHA, said that the venting pipe should be tall enough, so that in case there was a chemical discharge, it would not harm the workers, “It needed to be high enough so it wouldn’t disperse into the plant,” he said.

Four of the citations were repeat violations, for OSHA had cited Niagara for similar hazards at its Cheektowaga plant in 2009, making its violations that much more serious and inviting heavier penalties.

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

Mark Sterling a spokesman for Upstate Niagara, said that the company would meet with OSHA officials and review the citations. “We obviously take the safety and well-being of our employees and everyone (around) the plant very seriously.” Sterling said.

Upstate Niagara Cooperative 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.

Upstate Niagara Milk Coop In OSHA Net – Faces $200,300 In Fines by
Authored by: Harrison Barnes