OSHA Roasts Peanut Processor, Citing 41 Violations

OSHA is proposing 41 safety and health violations against Birdsong Corp.'s facilities in Sylvester and Blakely, Ga. The agency began an inspection of Birdsong's Sylvester plant in June 2009. Compliance officers found 21 serious safety violations and one other-than-serious safety violation, including lack of machine guards, fall hazards, electrical hazards, a lack of emergency lighting, and unmarked exit doors. In July 2009, a separate inspection was opened to address possible noise hazards at the plant, resulting in three serious and one other-than-serious health violations.

In September 2009, OSHA began a comprehensive inspection of the company's Blakely, Ga., facility following a fatality at the site in which a worker was caught in a conveyor belt. That investigation led to the issuance of three serious safety violations and one other-than-serious safety violation, including lack of machine guarding and lack of guardrails.

During the course of the fatality investigation, the compliance officer grew concerned about possible combustible dust hazards at the plant. A separate combustible dust inspection was begun and resulted in the issuance of 11 serious violations.

The inspections resulted in proposed penalties of $137,250 -- $88,200 for the Sylvester plant and $49,050 for the Blakely plant.

Birdsong is headquartered in Suffolk, Va., and has facilities in Georgia, Texas, and Virginia. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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