Ohio Firm Fined for Failure to Protect Workers

July 9, 2004

Norse Dairy Systems, a division of Interbake Foods Inc. in Columbus, Ohio is facing $122,000 in proposed penalties from the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) following a January 2004 inspection that reportedly revealed a number of dangerous workplace violations.

“Strong enforcement has been one of the keys to this Administration’s success in reducing workplace injuries and illnesses to record low levels,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. “The significant penalty of $122,000 in this case demonstrates our commitment to protecting the health and safety of American workers.”

OSHA opened its investigation in response to a complaint about safety issues at the plant, which primarily manufactures and supplies equipment, packaging and flavorings to the novelty ice cream industry. The subsequent inspection found alleged willful violations of OSHA regulations, including lack of machine guarding to prevent amputations and similar injuries, and failure to control all energy sources during maintenance operations on machinery.

In addition, serious safety problems were noted, including failure to monitor lead exposure and failure to provide training on various workplace safety and health issues.

The company employs approximately 3,500 full-time workers at facilities in California, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. There are 170 workers at the Columbus site. OSHA has conducted 11 inspections at the various company locations and in October 1996 issued serious citations related to an amputation accident.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to appeal before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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