Dairy firm faces hefty fine over alleged processing breaches

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Milk Ice cream

US dairy food processor Hiland Dairy Foods Co is facing a fine of almost $125,000 over a string of alleged processing violations that could lead to the “catastrophic release” of dangerous chemicals.

The US Government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has tabled the proposal to fine Hiland Dairy Foods, of Wichita, $124,500 for 24 “serious violations” of the OSH Act. The majority of these are linked to breaches of the company’s process safety management program (PSM). The PSM framework is strictly required by the US safety watchdog to avoid the “catastrophic release of hazardous chemicals”, said an OSHA statement.

No excuse

The body said it issues “serious citations” against companies when it rule breaches are likely to result in death or serious injury that employers knew about or should have known about.

Charles Adkins, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City, said: “There is no excuse for Hiland Dairy's inattention to such a critical program aimed at preventing the catastrophic release of hazardous chemicals.

"The company needs to address these issues quickly and sufficiently to ensure the safety and health of its workers and the surrounding community."

Targeted inspection

The OSHA said the inspection at Hiland’s premises was done under its “site –specific programme”. Such investigations are carried out on employers with high injury and illness rates.

Following the inspection, the company was charged over a number of other issues – including included lack of hoist system inspections, unguarded floor holes, deficiencies in the facility's lockout/tagout program, unguarded belts, pulleys and sprockets, and electrical hazards.

The firm has 15 days to respond, declared the OSHA. It can either make good the alleged safety breaches, seek an informal meeting with the government body or fight the charges before independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Hiland produces a range of dairy products including milk, yoghurts, ice-cream and butter.

FoodProductionDaily.com was unable to contact Hiland Dairy Foods prior to publication.

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