oshaUSA: A Florida-based refrigerated warehouse company faces fines of $116,100 for putting workers at risk of ammonia exposure.

Commercial Warehousing Inc of White Haven was cited by the US Department of Labour’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 13 safety violations, including one wilful violation, for failing to follow the industry recognised and generally accepted good engineering practices for insulation removal and for failing to test the ammonia refrigeration system piping and pressure vessels.

Twelve additional serious violations involve failing to maintain accurate and complete piping and instrument diagrams of the ammonia refrigeration systems, not completing actions items on the process safety hazard analysis and not training permanent and temporary workers on the emergency evacuation plan and alarm system for fire and ammonia releases.

Commercial Warehousing refrigerates various food products and citrus extract/oils and employs approximately 200 workers.

Les Grove, OSHA’s area director in Tampa, said “Commercial Warehousing has known for several years that testing of the refrigeration piping and pressure vessels was not being done as specified in company maintenance policy but management chose to downplay the seriousness of the hazard due to cost, and in the process, risked the lives and health of its workers.”

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.