Ala. Famers Cooperative Hit with $191,700 OSHA Fine

Two willful safety violations, with penalties of $126,000, include failing to establish a housekeeping program to reduce the accumulation of combustible dust and use approved electrical equipment in the presence of combustible dust.

OSHA has cited Alabama Farmers Cooperative Inc. with 17 safety and health violations for exposing workers at its Decatur, Ala., facility to combustible dust and other hazards. Proposed penalties total $191,700 following an October inspection initiated based on a complaint.

Two willful safety violations, with penalties of $126,000, include failing to establish a housekeeping program to reduce the accumulation of combustible dust and use approved electrical equipment in the presence of combustible dust.

Thirteen serious safety and health violations, with penalties of $65,700, include failing to provide working interlocks on the personnel elevator to prevent the door from opening when the elevator was not present, cover the grain chute opening, provide guardrails on open-sided floors and platforms to prevent fall hazards, provide handrails on stairways, establish an audiometric testing program, and guard various pieces of equipment. Additionally, workers were exposed to nuisance dust 1.6 times higher than the permissible exposure limit.

Two other-than-serious health violations with no monetary penalties involve failing to review and verify that OSHA 300 log entries were accurate and complete from 2008 to present, and to provide the certified OSHA summary form from 2008 to present.

"Although this employer's management is familiar with the safety issues associated with combustible dust, it still was allowed to accumulate throughout the facility, exposing workers to fire and explosion hazards," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's area director in Birmingham. "It is the employer's responsibility to provide a safe and healthful workplace."

Decatur, Ala.-headquartered Alabama Farmers Cooperative Inc. provides a range of agricultural supplies and services to farmers in the state.

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