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Kraft subsidiary fined for exposing workers to hazardous chemicals

28 September 2011

The US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Kraft Foods Inc. for 12 serious and one other-than-serious safety violation at a facility of its subsidiary, Oscar Meyer. The proposed fines currently total $75,000.

The US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Kraft Foods Inc. for 12 serious and one other-than-serious safety violation at a facility of its subsidiary, Oscar Meyer
The US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Kraft Foods Inc. for 12 serious and one other-than-serious safety violation at a facility of its subsidiary, Oscar Meyer

OSHA's inspection identified deficiencies in the company's process safety management programme, a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers must follow to proactively address hazards associated with processes and equipment that involve large amounts of hazardous chemicals. Nine of the serious violations involve failing to comply with the requirements of the process safety management standard.

"Failing to follow process safety management standards when workers are exposed to hazardous substances puts them at an unacceptable risk for injury and illness," said Kim Stille, OSHA's area director in Madison. "Employers have a responsibility to ensure that work environments are safe."

The three remaining serious violations involve failing to provide guardrails to protect workers from fall hazards, comply with the "lockout/tagout" standards for the control of hazardous energy and provide proper machine guarding. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The other-than serious violation was cited for failing to comply with process safety management standards. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

Illinois-based Kraft Foods Inc. has been inspected by OSHA more than 100 times nationwide in the past five years, including eight times at the Madison facility. Additionally, Kraft was cited in 2002 for process safety management violations and failing to control hazardous energy after a worker died following exposure to anhydrous ammonia.

Kraft Foods has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


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