Mississippi bottling plant cited following fatal accident

RP news wires, Noria Corporation
Tags: workplace safety

The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Mountain Pure MS and proposed penalties totaling $164,150 following the investigation of a fatal May 24 accident at the company's Magee, Miss., facility.

"This tragic accident could have been prevented if OSHA regulations and equipment manufacturer's instructions had been followed," said Clyde Payne, OSHA's Jackson area director. "Significant penalties are proposed when employers are aware of unsafe conditions and fail to abate them."

OSHA's investigation revealed that employees were routinely allowed to operate unguarded machinery and to service and repair equipment while machinery was energized. The fatality occurred when a worker was caught in an unguarded palletizer, part of a conveyer system used to move pallets.

The company received two willful citations directly related to the fatal accident, each with a proposed penalty of $49,000. Cited items were failure to train employees and develop energy control procedures that rendered machinery inoperable during repair, maintenance or servicing, and failure to install machine guards on moving parts of equipment. OSHA issues a willful citation when an employer has shown an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

The drinking water bottler also received 28 serious citations, with penalties totaling $66,150 for safety and health hazards. Alleged violations include lack of eye wash stations and personal protective equipment for employees working with corrosive materials; exposing workers to ozone well above the permissible levels; failing to train and certify forklift operators; improper use of a rough terrain forklift; lack of a hearing conservation program; lack of proper electrical equipment; improperly stored chemicals; and lack of machine guarding on other equipment not involved in the accident. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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