Numerous Safety Hazards Lead to $141,100 in OSHA Fines for Dairy Plant

August 07, 2003

A Lowville, N.Y., dairy plant's failure to address a wide range of safety hazards, including providing fall protection and first-aid kits for workers, has resulted in $141,100 in fines from OSHA.

Lewis County Dairy Corp. has been cited for a total of 36 alleged willful, serious and other violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following a comprehensive inspection conducted between January and July by OSHA's Syracuse-area office. The inspection was conducted as part of the Syracuse office's local emphasis program, focusing on hazards in food processing facilities.

The two willful citations, which account for $76,000 of the fines, concern failure to supply fall protection for workers exposed to falls of up to 12 feet while working atop milk trucks and failing to provide first aid kits to workers who may be injured on the job. In the citation, OSHA's Syracuse office stressed the importance of having first-aid kits available in less populated areas of New York. A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

The 33 serious citations encompass unguarded machinery, electrical hazards, blocked exit access, lack of an employee alarm system, defective ladders, unguarded open-sided floors, lack of personal protective equipment, defective stairways, lack of a confined space program, deficient fire extinguisher training, no hazard communication training and program, and deficiencies in the program designed to prevent the accidental startup of equipment during maintenance. Fines of $63,700 are proposed for these items. An additional fine of $1,400 is proposed for another citation for failing to maintain a log of workplace injuries and illnesses.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHA Unveils eTools for Young Workers The new eTools located on OSHA's Teen Workers web site are part of the agency's contribution to the Department of Labor's initiative on young workers.

"Educating and training young workers about how to stay safe on the job today will help prevent injuries today and lead to a healthy workforce in the future," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "These new resources provide practical information to protect young workers from hazards in industries in which many of them are likely to work during their high school and college years."

Eighty percent of U.S. teenagers work during their high school years. Of those, 52% will find jobs in the retail sector, which includes restaurants and fast food establishments.  Areas of focus include, serving, clean-up, drive-thru, cooking, food preparation, delivery, and worker rights and child labor laws.



OSHA is working on new ways to increase job safety and health awareness among teens and is preparing additional outreach and education materials designed to prevent young workers from being injured on the job.

New Information on Health and Safety of Everyday Products

The National Institutes of Health has made available a consumer's guide that provides easy-to- understand information on the potential health effects of more than 2,000 ingredients contained in more than 4,000 common household products.

Some household products contain substances that can pose health risks if they are ingested or inhaled, or if they come in contact with eyes and skin. For more technical information users can launch a search for a product or ingredient in TOXNET from the Product Page in the database.

Information in the database is provided to NLM under a collaborative agreement and is derived from publicly available sources, including brand-specific labels and information provided by manufacturers and their Web sites. The list of products covered will be expanded, and information for products currently in the database will be updated at least annually.

"The Household Products Database is a natural outgrowth of the work that the Library has done in recent years, educating the public about environmental risks posed by chemicals in the air, soil and water," explained NLM Director Dr. Donald A.B. Lindberg. "Last year, we unveiled Tox Town a site that introduces consumers to the toxic chemicals and environmental risks they might encounter in everyday life, in everyday places. With the Household Products site, we go inside the user's home and provide information about common products and their potential health effects."

The Household Products Database enables users to learn what's in the products under the kitchen sink, in the garage, in the bathroom, and on the laundry room shelf. It is designed to help answer questions such as:

-- What chemicals are contained in specific brands and in what percentage?
-- Which products contain specified chemicals?
-- Who manufactures a specific brand? How can I contact the manufacturer?
-- What are the potential health effects of the chemical ingredients in a specific brand?
-- What other information is available about such chemicals in the toxicology-related databases of the National Library of Medicine?

For example, a homeowner trying to decide which algae- killing product to use in her swimming pool could select the "Landscape/Yard/Swimming Pool" category in Household Products and click on "algaecide." She then could choose several brands to examine for chemical content and possible health hazards.

The record for each product would show her the ingredients from something called the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Designed to provide workers and emergency personnel with the proper procedures for handling or working with a particular substance, these sheets are produced by the manufacturer of the product as required by Federal law.

NLM Associate Director for Specialized Information Services, Dr. Jack Snyder, said, "NLM has provided an important set of databases for toxicologists and other scientists for many years. The target audience of the Household Products Database, however, is both scientists and the general public. The database allows users to browse a product category, such as 'Pesticides' or 'Personal Care,' by alphabetical listing or by brand name. Products can also be searched by type, manufacturer, product ingredient, or chemical name.

Located in Bethesda, Maryland, the National Library of Medicine, the world's largest library of the health sciences, is a component of the National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services.

American Society of Safety Engineers Address Distracted Driving

To reduce accidents and fatalities on the roadways and to guard against distracted drivers, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) recommends companies develop or upgrade their employee driving guidelines, and, that states improve driver education information. In an October 2001 position statement, ASSE recommended that state driver education information include training focused on eliminating and minimizing driver distractions and to show the extreme negative impact a slight distraction can have when an accident occurs, such as a death or sustaining a lifelong injury from brain damage.

As in years past, transportation incidents are the number one cause of on-the-job deaths.

“Drivers don’t control weather or road conditions or for that matter the behavior of other drivers,” ASSE President James ‘Skipper’ Kendrick, CSP, said. “But what they can do is to take more responsibility for their own safety by utilizing safe driving techniques and being cognizant of the many driving hazards on the roads today. Last year 42,815 people died from traffic crashes. Many of these tragedies might have been prevented through elimination of distractions.”

The ASSE position statement titled “The Use of Electronic Devices in Motor Vehicles and Safe Driving Practices” recognizes that legislative and regulatory initiatives such as increasing seatbelt and child safety seat use have been successful in improving roadway safety on the nation's roadways, however more needs to be done.

In addition to drivers following the rules of the road, ASSE also recommends that the private sector take more responsibility for promoting safe driving techniques which include 1) increasing public outreach to reinforce the fact that a driver's first responsibility is the safe operation of a vehicle --this includes school based driver education, which has been drastically reduced; 2) evaluation of employers' current practices; creation and enforcement of written guidelines addressing employee use of electronic devices while driving; 3) proactive training of employees about appropriate operation of electronic devices; 4) increased research by the automotive industry and the manufacturers of electronic and other devices that are routinely used in vehicles to improve designs and functions to eliminate driver distractions; 5) improved driver education -- a significant component in securing safety on the roadways.