Acadian Fine Foods LLC is facing $121,660 in fines for 16 safety and health violations, including 14 serious, one willful and one repeat violation, following a referral inspection that began in December 2013 at the Church Point, LA, processing plant, said was Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The food processor faces the fines for failing to protect workers from overexposure to carbon dioxide, dangerous machines and other safety hazards. The company employs 29 workers.
“Acadian Fine Foods exposed employees to levels of carbon dioxide that were at least four times above the permissible exposure limit. This glaring neglect of worker health and safety will not be tolerated,” said Dorinda Folse, OSHA’s area director in Baton Rouge. “OSHA’s safety and health standards must be followed to prevent worker injuries and fatalities. It is the employer’s responsibility to find and fix these hazards.”
Originally, OSHA’s Baton Rouge Area Office conducted a complaint inspection in November 2013, which resulted in Acadian getting citations for four serious violations for electrical hazards and unsafe forklift operation. That penalty, which the employer settled in May, was $15,400. However, a health referral was the result of employees suffering exposure to unsafe levels of carbon dioxide, which resulted in the December 2013 inspection.
The 14 serious violations, with a fine of $72,380, include failing to guard moving machine parts; conduct annual inspections of lockout/tagout procedures, which protect workers who maintain and service machines from the machine’s moving parts; properly identify respiratory hazards at the plant; include safety data sheets for carbon dioxide, sanitizer and boiler water treatment; and provide personal protective equipment. 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.
With a penalty of $38,500, one willful citation was for exposing workers to carbon dioxide levels deemed life threatening that were above the eight-hour time-weighted average of the permissible exposure limits. The employer failed to implement proper controls to reduce the carbon dioxide levels in the plant and provide workers with adequate respiratory protection. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
One repeat violation, with a penalty of $10,780, was for failing to ensure an electrical panel box ended up enclosed to eliminate worker exposure to live electrical wires. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously faced citations 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. The company received a similar violation in the April 2012 inspection.