US Labor Department's OSHA proposes nearly USD 105,000 in fines against Interstate Brands for safety hazards at Hostess plant in Biddeford, Maine

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News Release: 11-1811-BOS/BOS 2012-004

AUGUSTA, Maine (MMD Newswire) January 9, 2012 -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Interstate Brands, doing business as Hostess Brands, for eight serious and two repeat alleged violations of workplace safety standards at its Biddeford production plant. The company, which manufactures Hostess products, faces a total of $104,700 in proposed fines following a safety inspection by OSHA's Augusta Area Office.

"Our inspection identified mechanical, electrical, fall and exit hazards, including some similar to those cited at other Interstate Brands facilities," said William Coffin, OSHA's area director for Maine. "Left uncorrected, these violations expose workers to the hazards of electrocution, lacerations, amputation, falls, being caught in operating or unexpectedly activated machinery and being unable to exit the workplace swiftly in the event of a fire or other emergency."

OSHA's inspection found an absence of guardrails to prevent workers from falling into and through hoppers; a locked emergency exit door and an exit route blocked by product racks; unguarded moving machine parts on a conveyor belt, band saw blade, drill press and other equipment; undocumented procedures to prevent the unintended activation of machinery during maintenance; and individuals working on live electrical equipment who were not familiar with the protective equipment needed for such work. These serious violations resulted in citations carrying $42,200 in fines. 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 recurring violations involve failing to guard chains and sprockets on a cake alignment conveyor and a packaging machine feeder, and provide personal protective equipment to safeguard employees against electrical shocks, arc flashes and arc blasts while working with live electrical parts. The citations carry $62,500 in fines. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. OSHA cited International Brands in 2010 for similar hazards at plants in Columbus, Ga., and Schiller Park, Ill.

The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/InterstateBrands_315672352_1222_11.pdf.*

Interstate Brands has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Augusta office at 207-626-9160.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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Source: U.S. Department of Labor

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