August 1, 2016

2 Min Read
OSHA Fines Peanut Manufacturer $110K for Combustible Dust, More

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued citations to the employer on July 25 for 13 repeated, four serious, and four other-than-serious safety and health violations.

OSHA initiated the follow-up inspection to verify abatement of hazards from citations the agency issued to Great Southern Peanut and Georgia Farm Services LLC in March 2014.

The repeated citations relate to the employer’s failure to:

•    Properly guard open sided floors and platforms
•    Keep floors clean and dry in the vehicle service pit area
•    Develop and implement procedures to enter a confined space area
•    Keep surfaces free from hazardous accumulations of combustible peanut dust
•    Provide a handrail and railing on a fixed stairway

The serious citations relate to the employer:

•    Not having the required height for a guard railing system
•    Exposing workers to unguarded horizontal shafts
•    Failing to have stairway risers uniform and consistent

The other-than-serious citation relates to the employer:

•    Not posting the annual summary of workplace injuries and illnesses recorded on the OSHA 300 log
•    Failing to provide medical evaluations for employees required to wear respirators
•    Failing to provide baseline and annual audiogram testing for employees exposed to noise

Proposed penalties are $110,310.

 “Great Southern Peanut continues to ignore its responsibility to protect workers from hazards that could potentially result in serious injury or death,” said Kimberly Austin, acting director of OSHA’s Savannah Area Office. “Employers should not wait for an OSHA inspection to identify hazards; they must be proactive in identifying and removing hazards.”

OSHA is considering placing Great Southern Peanut LLC in its Severe Violators Enforcement Program. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat, or failure-to-abate violations. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer’s facilities if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.

Great Southern Peanut processes raw peanuts to include cleaning, shelling, sorting, packaging, and shipping. The employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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