Cheese maker Sorrento Lactalis Inc. faces a total of $241,000 in proposed fines for 13 alleged repeat and serious violations of workplace health and safety standards at its Buffalo, N.Y., production facility.
An inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Buffalo Area Office identified several deficiencies in the plant's process safety management program. PSM is 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," says 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.
- Mo written procedures to manage changes to the
- Incomplete written operating procedures.
- A failure to document that process equipment complies with recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices.
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.