Electrical, Mechanical Hazards Fermenting at Greek Yogurt Site, OSHA Finds

OSHA found numerous instances of unguarded moving machine parts and electrical hazards, including failing to train employees in electric safety-related work practices.

OSHA has cited Agro Farma Inc. for 34 alleged violations of workplace safety and health standards at its New Berlin, N.Y., facility. The manufacturer of Chobani Greek Yogurt faces a total of $178,000 in proposed penalties following inspections by OSHA's Syracuse Area Office that were prompted by a complaint.

"Our inspections identified a wide range of mechanical, chemical, electrical, and health hazards that, left uncorrected, expose the plant's employees to being caught in moving machine parts or unexpectedly energized machinery, electrocution, falls, being overcome in toxic or oxygen-deficient atmospheres, and hearing loss," said Christopher Adams, OSHA's area director in Syracuse.

OSHA found numerous instances of unguarded moving machine parts; electrical hazards, including failing to train employees in electric safety-related work practices; a lack of personal protective equipment for employees working on live electrical equipment; a lack of fall protection for employees accessing the top of milk trucks; missing or inadequate energy control procedures and training for employees cleaning a trash compactor; failing to label all confined space work areas and provide confined space training; wet floors; unguarded floor holes; railings not provided over dangerous equipment; and stairway and exit deficiencies.

The inspection also identified deficiencies in the plant's process safety management program, which prevents the unexpected release of toxic, reactive, or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals, including unlabeled containers of hazardous chemicals; failing to provide audiometric testing for employees exposed to excess noise levels; and failing to refit and retrain employees who experienced a hearing loss. These conditions resulted in the issuance of 33 serious citations, with $177,000 in proposed fines.

Agro Farma Inc. also has been issued one other-than-serious citation, worth $1,000, for failing to record hearing losses in its OSHA 300 injury and illness log.

"An effective illness and injury prevention program is one way of preventing workplace hazards such as these," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional director in New York.

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