Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that Illinois-based All-Feed Processing and Packaging Inc., is facing a number of serious citations for health and safety violations in the workplace. This announcement follows on the heels of a recent deadly explosion at a Kansas grain silo, further highlighting the gravity of safety violations at feed and grain handling sites. Unfortunately, All-Feed, which processes and packages animal food, is no stranger to such citations. OSHA considers the company to be a serious repeat offender, consistently failing to eliminate or reduce safety and health risks to their employees.
According to an OSHA news release, a recent inspection of the company turned up as many as 23 safety and health violations. As a result, the organization proposed fines against All-Feed totaling $758,450. Many of these violations were related to a failure to adequately protect workers from the high amounts of combustible dust created at the plant. OSHA found that the company not only required employees to work in areas with dust amounts above permissible limits, but also failed to require six of those workers to wear respirators. Dust collecting units were inadequately protected from fire and explosion hazards. Propane-powered trucks were found to have been used in areas where they could have ignited the highly-flammable dust. Also, the company was cited for repeatedly failing to post signs meant to warn of the presence and hazards of combustible dust.
Among the 23 citations given, 13 were considered willful violations. Willful violations are ones “committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.” Given the seriousness of such violations, these fines accounted for over $700,000 of the total fines proposed. The company has been under scrutiny for its consistent failure to comply with regulations, with OSHA inspecting the plant ten times in the past eleven years. During that time, 76 citations were written, including 17 willful violations and 44 serious violations. Most recently, the company had to be forced by a court-order to allow OSHA to inspect their plant during normal working conditions.
Unfortunately, these issues have continued despite a recent incident that injured three workers. OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels stated, “Even after a powerful dust explosion and fire at this facility in 2009, along with a number of citations previously issued for similar conditions, All-Feed Processing and Packaging fails to comply with safety and health requirements. By showing a blatant disregard for worker safety and health, this employer continues to expose workers to deadly hazards.”
As a result of their repeated violations, OSHA has placed All-Feed on the Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Under this program, the company must submit to mandatory inspections of its work sites. Ideally, for troubled companies like All-Feed, participation in programs such as these will ultimately help reduce the risk of injury to workers. However, if you have already been injured on the job, and are uncertain of your rights, contact a Chicago workers compensation lawyer who can assist you.
About the Author: Brooke Haley marketing associate at Millon & Peskin, Chicago workers compensation attorney that practice in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers’ Compensation, and Personal Injury. Millon & Peskin is a General Civil Litigation Practice with the goal of representing the interests of injured workers, throughout all applicable Courts within the State of Illinois. For more information, please visit http://www.millonpeskin.com.