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OSHA calls for $72,000 fine on Wisconsin dairy products company after dust explosion

24 February 2012

Milk Specialties Company of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) with three safety violations, including one willful violation for combustible dust hazards, following an inspection after a fire resulting from a dust explosion in a machine at the company's plant.

There were no casualties and employees were all evacuated safely from the plant, which converts liquid whey products into dried whey protein concentrate powder.

As part of the inspection, OSHA subpoenaed two of the company's reports: a five-year strategic plan for combustible dust and a combustible dust review report. Milk Specialties Co. would not provide the documents, citing attorney/client and attorney/work product privileges. A District Court judge ruled on February 8 that the documents constitute business advice and ordered the company to provide them to OSHA.

Milk Specialties attorney Joe Kang said the firm disagreed with OSHA’s findings, but that it has modified its equipment to avoid another such incident. The company also denied there had been an explosion, saying that a small amount of milk products began to smoulder.

Milk Specialties Co. can either pay the fine, officially challenge the citation, or seek a meeting with OSHA to settle the matter.

The company is part of Milk Specialties Global. OSHA had earlier conducted multiple inspections at the group’s Wisconsin facilities and cited a total of 52 violations.

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