The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Lone Star Bakery Inc. in San Antonio for reportedly failing to adequately protect employees from breathing a toxic substance. Proposed penalties total $78,300.
OSHA cited the company for one alleged willful and 10 alleged serious violations of health and safety standards following an investigation that began Sept. 9 when the agency received a complaint that employees were exposed to ammonia while shutting off ammonia valves at Plant 2 on Highway 87 E. The incident resulted in a worker receiving medical treatment for burns at the scene.
“Fortunately no one was seriously injured at this worksite,” said Eric Harbin, OSHA’s Austin area office director. “The company did not have an effective emergency plan in place under OSHA’s ‘process safety management’ standard. These safeguards are designed to prevent unexpected releases of toxic, reactive or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals.”
The willful violation was issued for failing to provide employees with proper respiratory protection when responding to an emergency involving chemical leaks. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
The serious violations included failing to: properly train employees on the operation of opening and shutting down valves containing hazardous chemicals; provide adequate machine guarding on baking equipment; protect employees from electrical hazards, and properly inspect forklift equipment. A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Lone Star Bakery, which produces baked goods such as breads and pies, employs about 515 people at two locations in San Antonio. About 215 work at Plant 2.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request and participate in an informal conference with OSHA’s Austin area director or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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