OSHA Delivers Fine to Pizza Maker for Exposing Employees to Oxygen Deficient Atmosphere

A willful health violation was issued for exposing workers to an oxygen deficient environment when processing pizzas in the liquid nitrogen cryogenic freezer.

OSHA has cited Emil's Pizza Inc. with nine alleged safety and health violations, including one willful violation for exposing workers to an oxygen deficient atmosphere at its frozen pizza manufacturing plant in Watertown, Wis. Proposed fines total $76,300.

"Employers are responsible for knowing the hazards that exist in their workplace and training workers in proper safety precautions such as air monitoring and respirator use," said Kim Stille, director of OSHA's Madison Area Office. "OSHA is committed to protecting workers, especially when employers fail to do so."

OSHA initiated an inspection of the plant in June following a complaint. A willful health violation was issued for exposing workers to an oxygen deficient environment when processing pizzas in the liquid nitrogen cryogenic freezer. The freezer creates the potential for an oxygen deficient atmosphere due to the buildup of nitrogen gas in the production area. No injuries or illness were reported as a result of the conditions.

The company also has been cited for eight serious violations including three health violations for failing to implement a respirator program, train workers on how to use air monitoring equipment, and train workers on the hazards of liquid nitrogen.

Five serious safety violations are for failing to use the guard on the packing machine, which exposed workers to burns; train employees in evacuation procedures; and review an emergency action plan, including developing a procedure to account for personnel after an evacuation, clear exit routes, and maintain floors in a dry condition.

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