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ConAgra faces $117k fine for safety violations

By Joe Whitworth+

20-Mar-2014
Last updated on 20-Mar-2014 at 09:43 GMT2014-03-20T09:43:41Z

ConAgra flour mill hit by OSHA citations
ConAgra flour mill hit by OSHA citations

ConAgra Foods is facing a $117,000 fine after being hit with multiple safety violations at its Columbus-based flour mill.

Most of the citations were due to machines which lacked proper guarding, said the US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  

The 13 safety violations, which include three repeat issues, come after an OSHA inspection of the plant in September 2013 following a complaint.

ConAgra response

A spokeswoman for the firm told FoodQualityNews.com that it has an ‘outstanding safety record’ that is ‘significantly better’ than the milling industry average.

“While there have been no employee injuries related to the citations, we're working closely with OSHA to review the agency's findings as part of our commitment to maintaining a safe, secure work environment.”

She said that ConAgra Foods is dedicated to making its plants safe places to work.

“We will be working closely with OSHA to better understand the basis for the citations, including the ones noted as repeat. In any event, we have and we will continue to examine and enhance our safety processes.”

OSHA last inspected the Columbus facility in 2005, which resulted in four citations and was a follow-up to a 2003 dust explosion at the facility, which caused the death of two workers and the hospitalization of one other.

Safety violations detailed

Ten serious safety citations were also issued to the company. Seven of the citations were for inadequate machine guarding at work areas near moving machinery, shafts, fans, pulleys and chains.

The other violations included failing to provide fall protection for workers retrieving samples from bins, not marking exits, inadequate forklift training and failing to have covers in place on an electrical junction box.

Three repeat violations include lack of machine guarding on horizontal shafts in the flour mill, failing to provide all required information on OSHA injury and illness logs, and exposing workers to falls greater than seven feet.

The same violations were cited in 2011, 2010 and 2009 at facilities in Cranbury, New Jersey, Turners Fall, Massachusetts and Carol Stream, Illinois.

"Lack of machine guarding can lead to amputation and other serious injuries. Risk to workers can be avoided by maintaining adequate guards and following manufacturer-recommended safety procedures," said Deborah Zubaty, OSHA's area director in Columbus.

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