NEW YORK -- Inadequate safeguards to protect workers against potential ammonia releases at its Brooklyn, N.Y., ice plant have resulted in $264,700 in U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration fines for Arctic Glacier U.S.A., Inc., a nationwide ice manufacturer and distributor. OSHA cited the company for 19 violations of workplace safety standards following a comprehensive inspection by OSHA's Manhattan Area Office that began in March.
Several of the violations involve deficiencies in the plant's process safety management, or PSM*, program. OSHA's PSM standard mandates a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers must follow to proactively assess and address hazards associated with processes involving the use of more than 10,000 pounds of a hazardous chemical. In this case, it is 14,757 pounds of ammonia used in the plant's refrigeration system. This inspection was conducted under OSHA's PSM Covered Chemical Facilities National Emphasis Program*.
'The release of large amounts of ammonia or other hazardous chemicals into the workplace would be catastrophic, but such an event is not inevitable if an employer institutes and maintains proper and effective precautions,' said Kay Gee, OSHA's area director for Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. 'Inadequate and incomplete safeguards could be lethal.'
Among the hazards found at the Brooklyn plant were incomplete operating procedures, undocumented inspections and testing, failing to prove employees with process safety information, failing to document that process equipment complied with recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices and inadequate work space in front of electrical equipment.
As a result of these conditions, OSHA has cited the company for six repeat violations with $203,500 in fines. A repeat violation exists when an employer has been cited previously for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any of its facilities in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Since 2011, Arctic Glacier USA Inc. has been cited for PSM hazards at its plants in Fairport, Mamaroneck and Newburgh, N.Y. and Aston, Penn.
'It's incumbent upon Arctic Glacier to review, assess and correct any PSM deficiencies here and at its other locations. The health and well-being of its employees depend on it,' said Gee.
Other hazards included a lack of required exit routes; a locked exit door; failure to train employees in emergency response; unguarded and unanchored machinery; improper storage of oxygen and acetylene tanks; the use of improperly rated electrical switches in a wet environment; incomplete process safety information; lack of employee participation in process safety management; and failure to verify that employees understood process safety management training.
These conditions resulted in the issuance of 13 serious violations, with $71,200 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 citations can be viewed here*.
Arctic Glacier U.S.A., Inc. is the second largest ice producer in the country, and is a subsidiary of Arctic Glaciers Holdings Inc., which is Canada's largest ice producer with headquarters in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Arctic Glacier, Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before 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 Manhattan office at 212-630-3200.
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.