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January 31, 2024
Wisconsin ice cream maker facing $145K OSHA fine

AJLS Enterprises Inc. of Madison, Wisconsin—operating as Schoep’s Ice Cream—faces $145,097 in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) penalties for 12 serious safety violations, the agency announced January 29.

OSHA inspected the ice cream plant in response to reports of workers being exposed to anhydrous ammonia. Investigators found that the plant lacked sufficient process safety management procedures to control the release of hazardous chemicals.

According to the agency, Schoep’s Ice Cream failed to document that equipment was being operated consistent with best engineering processes, update processes following audits, and respond to changes in the process.

In addition to citing Schoep’s for insufficient process safety procedures, the agency noted safety and health violations that included:

  • Lack of lockout/tagout procedures 
  • Lack of machine guarding
  • Failing to train workers in lockout/tagout procedures
  • Not having a written hazard communication plan
  • Failing to update the emergency action plan 
  • Ladder openings not protected from fall hazards

OSHA’s hazard communication standard (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1910.1200) is the agency’s most cited general industry standard, second only to its construction industry fall protection standard. Last fall, OSHA cited 3,213 hazard communication violations in fiscal year (FY) 2023. The lockout/tagout standard was OSHA’s sixth most cited, and machine guarding was the tenth most cited standard.

 “Employers must continually evaluate their engineering processes and train workers on how to safely operate equipment,” Chad Greenwood, OSHA’s Madison, Wisconsin, area office director, said in an agency statement.

Georgia plumbing contractor cited in fatal fall

K&D Plumbing Inc., a Silver Creek, Georgia, plumbing contractor, faces $184,387 in penalties after a worker’s fatal fall and exposure to hydrogen sulfide, OSHA announced January 26.

A three-person work crew from K&D Plumbing was replacing a sewer line at a high school when they encountered a blockage in a pipe. To clear the blockage near the end of a 60-foot-long trench, one worker entered a manhole. A short time later, the worker fell about 20 feet and succumbed to injuries from the fall and subsequent exposure to a high atmospheric concentration of hydrogen sulfide gas, according to OSHA.

The Rome, Georgia, Fire Department used a gas monitor to test the air inside the manhole and discovered the presence of hydrogen sulfide at 1,910 parts per million (ppm). The OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) for hydrogen sulfide is 20 ppm. 

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) considers an environmental concentration of 100 ppm immediately dangerous to life or health.

OSHA cited the employer for willfully failing to develop and implement a permit-required confined space entry program, including testing and ventilating the space, before allowing employees to enter a manhole. The agency also cited K&D Plumbing with six serious violations for not providing ladders or other safe means of egress from the 6-foot-deep trench and protections or controls for water accumulation inside the trench. 

According to the agency, the employer also failed to have a competent person inspect the trench before workers entered, ensure excavated soil and uninstalled piping were stored at least 2 feet from the trench edge, and prevent them from rolling back inside the trench and striking workers. 

“K&D Plumbing’s failure to adhere to industry guidelines resulted in a preventable loss of life,” Jeffery Stawowy, OSHA’s Atlanta-West area office director, said in a statement.

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