OSHA fines Echo Lake Foods with 27 safety violations

BURLINGTON (WITI) -- OSHA has fined Echo Lake Foods of Burlington with 27 safety violations, carrying fines of $150,000. OSHA says multiple violations of OSHA’s process safety management standards for facilities that use highly hazardous chemicals were found at the company’s Burlington and Franksville frozen food production plants

OSHA received complaints alleging hazards with the ammonia refrigeration systems at those facilities. A fire at the Burlington facility Jan. 30th resulted in the destruction of a portion of the plant’s ammonia refrigeration system, causing significant property damage. No serious injuries were reported.

“By disregarding OSHA’s standards to train employees on ammonia hazards, compressors and safety procedures, Echo Lake Foods endangered workers at both its Wisconsin facilities,” said Christine Zortman, OSHA’s area director in Milwaukee. “OSHA is committed to protecting workers on the job, especially those exposed to hazardous materials, and educating employers about safety and health regulations.”

According to OSHA, 22 process safety management violations at both facilities involve multiple instances of not addressing the consequences of the failure of various engineering and administrative controls. The company also failed to address procedures to perform oil draining activities safely for ammonia compressors and provide and document worker training involving the ammonia systems and related operating equipment.

OSHA says in Burlington, four additional serious violations include insufficient safety guardrails on platforms; inadequate exit routes; lack of an emergency eyewash station near a compressor room, posing potential exposure to anhydrous ammonia; and missing cover plates on several electrical switches. In Franksville, one additional serious violation includes failing to certify that periodic inspections of hazardous energy control procedures had been performed. 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, according to OSHA.

Echo Lake Foods Inc. employs 450 workers companywide. In addition to Burlington and Franksville, the company operates a production and storage facility in Owensboro, Ky.

The Wisconsin facilities have been inspected by OSHA 13 times and issued 45 citations. The Kentucky facility has received two violations.

The company, which is headquartered in Burlington, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and notice of proposed penalties to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

If the company does not file or contest within that period, it must abate the cited conditions within the period ordered in the citations and pay the proposed penalties.