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System operators face higher fines

oshaUSA: Companies that operate ammonia refrigeration systems and fail to ensure safe working conditions for their workers will face higher penalties from next year.

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for ensuring safe and healthful working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance. Since 1990, the OSHA was exempted from a law that required federal agencies to raise their fines to keep pace with inflation.

Under a new budget agreement, the OSHA’s citation penalties will be raised for the first time in 25 years. The actual percentage increase is not known at this time but is expected to be in the range of 75% to 80%. The current maximum civil penalty for alleged serious violations is $7,000 per violation, and for alleged wilful or repeat violations is $70,000 per violation.

Under the National Emphasis Programme, the OSHA ensures ammonia refrigeration facilities are compliant with its PSM (Process Safety Management) standard and verifies that employers’ written and implemented PSM programmes are consistent. It also carries out random inspections.

While the air conditioning and refrigeration industry in the USA has a relatively good safety record, a number of companies fall foul of the regulations ever year. These are often operators of ammonia refrigeration systems. The Cooling Post has reported a number of violations over the last 12 months with fines of up to $250,000.

Related stories:

OSHA looks to improve ammonia safetyAugust 19, 2014
USA: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is to continue to work with the Global Cold Chain Alliance to improve ammonia refrigeration system safety. Read more…

Florida firm faces $116,000 fineJuly 15, 2015
USA: A Florida-based refrigerated warehouse company faces fines of $116,100 for putting workers at risk of ammonia exposure. Read more…

Texas cold store faces $76,500 fineJuly 12, 2015
USA: Texas-based Valley International Cold Storage faces potential fines of $76,500 for failing to protect workers from possible exposure to ammonia. Read more…

Alfa Laval faces $477,900 safety fine – May 24, 2015
USA: Alfa Laval faces penalties of $477,900 for workplace safety violations at its air-cooled heat exchanger plant in Oklahoma. Read more…

Firm faces $51K fine for ammonia violations – February 12, 2015
USA: A meat processing facility faces a penalty of $51,000 for allegedly exposing workers to ammonia refrigerant. Read more…

$264,700 fine for ammonia safety failures – September 12, 2014
USA: A New York ice manufacturer has been fined $264,700 for failing to sufficiently protect workers from potential ammonia releases. Read more…

Bud brewer cited for ammonia violations – August 5, 2014
USA: Anheuser-Busch, brewer of Budweiser and Bud Light, has been cited for safety violations with the ammonia refrigeration system at its Columbus plant. Read more…

Companies cited for ammonia safety failures – March 17, 2014
USA: A leading frozen food manufacturer and its refrigeration maintenance supplier face health and safety charges, including failing to provide adequate ammonia safety training. Read more…

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