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Progressive Gourmet Inc., a wholesale food manufacturer and distributor for food service and catering industries, faces $73,400 in fines for repeat and serious safety violations at a Wilmington, MA, production facility, according to officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The inspections started in September 2102 by OSHA’s Andover Area Office in response to employee complaints.

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OSHA found the facility lacked adequate procedures to prevent the unintended startup of machinery, such as cookers, ovens and conveyors, while employees performed service and maintenance on the equipment. The company also failed to provide all affected employees with information and training on how to power down and lock out the machines’ power sources before performing maintenance.

As a result of these latest conditions, the company faced citations for two repeat violations with $55,000 in fines. A repeat violation exists when an employer faced 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. The company faced similar violations in 2008.

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OSHA also issued Progressive Gourmet three serious citations with $18,400 in fines for lack of routine inspections and maintenance to ensure safe operation of the plant’s anhydrous ammonia refrigeration system, insufficient space between stored materials and overhead piping containing ammonia to allow for safe access to stored materials, and slipping and tripping hazards from wet work floors. 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.

“Left uncorrected, these conditions expose employees to a release of ammonia, slips and falls and to being caught in unexpectedly activated machinery,” said Jeffrey A. Erskine, OSHA’s area director for Middlesex and Essex counties in Massachusetts. “Prompt, effective and ongoing corrective action is necessary to eliminate these hazards and prevent their recurrence.”

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