COLUMBUS, OHIO — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor has cited Omaha-based ConAgra Foods Inc. for multiple safety violations at the company’s Columbus-based flour mill. The 13 safety violations include three repeat citations and carry proposed penalties of $117,000, OSHA said.
According to OSHA, most of the citations were issued because machines lacked proper guarding, one of the 10 most frequently cited standards by OSHA.
“Lack of machine guarding can lead to amputation and other serious injuries,” said Deborah Zubaty, OSHA’s area director in Columbus. “Risk to workers can be avoided by maintaining adequate guards and following manufacturer-recommended safety procedures. Employers cited for repeat violations demonstrate a lack of commitment to employee safety and health.”
OSHA said the three repeat violations include lack of machine guarding on horizontal shafts in the flour mill, failing to provide all required information on OSHA injury and illness logs, and exposing workers to falls greater than 7 feet.
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 said the same violations were cited in 2011, 2010 and 2009 at facilities in Cranbury, N.J.; Turners Fall, Mass.; and Carol Stream, Ill., respectively.
Additionally, 10 “serious” safety citations were issued to the company. Seven of the citations were for inadequate machine guarding at work areas near moving machinery, shafts, fans, pulleys and chains. The other violations included failing to provide fall protection for workers retrieving samples from bins, not marking exits, inadequate forklift training and failing to have covers in place on an electrical junction box.
A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm may result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Responding to the OSHA citations, ConAgra said it has “an outstanding safety record that is significantly better than the milling industry average.”
“While there have been no employee injuries related to the citations, we’re working closely with OSHA to review the agency’s findings as part of our commitment to maintaining a safe, secure work environment,” ConAgra said.
ConAgra has 15 business days from the receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.The Columbus flour mill employs 14, and according to the2013 Grain & Milling Annualpublished by Sosland Publishing, has daily wheat flour capacity of 7,500 cwts and storage of 1,200,000 bus.