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PA Mill Faces $195k OSHA Fines for Combustible Dust Hazards

August 9, 2016

The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) cited a mill in Albion, PA for five willful, nine repeat, 12 serious, and one other-than-serious safety and health violations, the agency announced Tuesday.

Visited by OSHA inspectors on Feb. 10 as a follow up to inspections done in 2013, the facility owned by Mattocks Five Inc., doing business as Albion Mill, is facing $195,460 in proposed fines by OSHA.

“Our follow-up inspection at Albion Mill found employees continue to be exposed to severe combustible dust issues. In some areas, six inches or more of dust had accumulated, creating a dangerous risk of explosion,” Theresa A. Naim, director of OSHA’s Erie, PA area office, said in a statement. “This company had ample opportunity, time, and guidance to correct the hazardous conditions but chose business as usual by disregarding the safety of its employees.”

Agency inspectors said they found willful violations when the company:

- Allowed employees without proper safety equipment to enter a grain-handling bin.
- Allowed machines to be operated with unguarded belts, pulleys, and shafts.
- Failed to develop or implement a housekeeping program to prevent worker exposure to combustible dust hazards caused by accumulated grain and feed products.
- Did not maintain inspection certification records when servicing equipment.

The repeat violations included:

- A lack of annual employee training on use of portable fire extinguishers.
- An unguarded, 28-inch deep pit.
- Electrical hazards.
- A lack of worker chemical hazard training.
- No written and implemented hazard communication program.
- An absence of lockout/tagout procedures, which prevent accidental machine start-up or movement.

The serious violations included:

- Deficiencies in lockout/tagout procedures and training.
- Unguarded machine parts.
- Use of damaged equipment.
- Employee exposure to fall hazards.
- Improper storage of propane cylinders.
- Workers permitted to enter grain handling facility without a permit.
- Lack of employee training on engulfment hazards.

A “other-than-serious” violation was also issued for an unguarded pit.

After Mattocks Five Inc. received the citations, the company requested an informal conference with the OSHA area director, and met with the agency official on Aug. 8, according to the agency’s press release on the citations. Discussions between OSHA and the company are still ongoing.