OSHA Brews Up $46,550 in Fines for Georgia Coffee, Tea Manufacturer

Fourteen serious violations involve the company's failure to install isolation devices on the dust collector system to prevent fires and explosions, keep steel beams and floors free of coffee and tea dust accumulation, and develop and implement an emergency action plan and training in the use of fire extinguishers.

OSHA has cited Excelso Coffee and Tea Co. for 19 violations related to combustible dust and other hazards at the company's Norcross, Ga., manufacturing facility, where it conducts coffee and tea blending operations. OSHA began an inspection in April as part of its Site-Specific Targeting program, which directs enforcement resources to those workplaces where the highest rate of injuries and illnesses have occurred. Proposed penalties total $46,550.

Fourteen serious violations involve the company's failure to install isolation devices on the dust collector system to prevent fires and explosions, keep steel beams and floors free of coffee and tea dust accumulation, and develop and implement an emergency action plan and training in the use of fire extinguishers. Additionally, the facility lacked guardrails and standard railings on fixed stairs; the company did not evaluate permit-required confined spaces; an energy control program for employees maintaining and servicing equipment was not in place; training for forklift operators was not provided; the facility lacked an eyewash station; employees were not provided with hand protection against heat and cuts; compressed air was improperly used to clean equipment; machinery on the packaging line lacked machine guards; a bench grinder was improperly adjusted; the electrical panel box had exposed wiring; and flexible cords were improperly used as permanent wiring.

Five other-than-serious violations with no monetary penalties involve not maintaining OSHA-required logs of workplace illnesses and injuries for 2007 and 2009; not clearly marking an exit door; not providing employees who voluntarily wore respirators with a medical evaluation; not keeping the area in front of the electrical panel free of storage; and suspending electrical outlets that were intended by the manufacturer to be mounted.

"OSHA continues to find companies engaged in food and beverage production ignoring the dangers of combustible dust and other hazards that threaten the safety and health of their employees," said William Fulcher, director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office. "Fixing these violations now is a lot easier than recovering from a fire or explosion that can result in injuries or even loss of life."

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