The proposed penalties were made after inspections by the US Department of Labour’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration are alleged to have uncovered dozens of serious workplace safety violations, five of which were identified in previous inspections.
Federal investigators claim to have found five repeated and 45 serious violations on a range of health and safety issues at the company’s Broken Arrow facility, including inadequate protection of workers from machinery, a lack of respiratory equipment and training for hazardous chemicals.
The facility was acquired by Alfa Laval in 2013 with the purchase of ACE Air Cooled Exchangers. The plant employs about 220 people.
Alfa Laval is accused of having no procedure to prevent machines from starting during maintenance or service and failing to maintain written fire protection and emergency management plans. OSHA levied a $218,500 penalty for the repeated violations that it had cited the employer for in 2010 and 2011, and an additional $259,400 for the serious violations. OSHA has placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Employers in the programme are placed on a public list identifying them as a severe violator, and are subject to follow-up inspections.
“Alfa Laval has no excuse for repeatedly exposing workers to dangerous conditions,” said David Bates, OSHA’s area director in Oklahoma City. “A continued failure by the company to make needed changes to its safety program may well result in severe injuries or worse.”
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director in Oklahoma City, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.