OSHA Serves Scoop of Fines to Ice Cream Maker for Automation Hazards

The violations involve uncorrected deficiencies in ammonia processing equipment, not developing and implementing safe work practices for all mechanical and maintenance tasks, and incomplete written standard operating procedures.

OSHA has cited Perry's Ice Cream Co. Inc. for eight alleged serious violations of workplace safety standards following an inspection at its Akron, N.Y., manufacturing plant. The ice cream manufacturer faces a total of $51,000 in proposed penalties.

OSHA's inspection identified several deficiencies in the company's process safety management program, 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. In this case, the chemical was ammonia, used in the plant's refrigeration system. The violations involve uncorrected deficiencies in ammonia processing equipment, not developing and implementing safe work practices for all mechanical and maintenance tasks, incomplete written standard operating procedures, and failure to provide process safety management training to employees at least every three years.

"The purpose of process safety management is to prevent catastrophic incidents such as fires, explosions, and uncontrolled releases of highly hazardous chemicals, including ammonia," said Arthur Dube, OSHA's area director for western New York. "Employers must ensure that their PSM programs and training are up-to-date and ready for any contingency."

Inspectors also found deficiencies in the plant's hazardous energy control program, which involves powering down and locking out machines' power sources to prevent their unintended start up during maintenance. Specifically, lockout procedures were not developed for tasks that resulted in recordable worker injuries, all lockout procedures were not inspected periodically, and employees were not trained on lockout procedures. Additionally, unapproved electrical wiring and equipment was used in a Class I, Division 2 hazardous location.

"One means of preventing hazards such as these is for an employer to develop and implement an illness and injury prevention program in which management and workers proactively identify and eliminate hazardous conditions on a continual basis," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional director in New York.

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