OSHA Cites Imperial Sugar’s Gramercy, La., Plant

March 26, 2008

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Imperial Sugar Company for various violations totaling $36,000 in penalties at its plant in Gramercy, La., company officials said.

The alleged violations included the use of three filter-cartridge dust collectors that were not equipped with explosion protection systems and bags of sugar stored in an unstable manner. Proposed penalties ranged from $4,500 to $6,300.

John Sheptor, Imperial Sugar’s chief executive, said the company was notified about the citations and possible penalties on Friday but said the company does not agree with the “type and/or severity classification” of the citations and will most likely contest them through OSHA’s appeal process.

“We pledge to our associates and contractors that we will continue to provide a safe work place,” Sheptor said. “Our associates and contractors are themselves involved with and very helpful in achieving this goal.”

Imperial Sugar, based in Sugar Land, Texas, is a major processor and refiner of sugar.

Last week, the company said it planned to begin removing potentially combustible dust at its powdered sugar operation in Gramercy. The dust recently forced the plant to shut down that operation.

A Feb. 7 explosion at an Imperial refinery in Georgia outside Savannah killed 13 people and has been blamed on dust that ignited. The disaster prompted OSHA to inspect hundreds of plants where combustible dust is a workplace hazard.

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