News | June 30, 2014

San Antonio Fruit Processor And Staffing Agency Cited By US Department Of Labor's OSHA For Exposing Temporary Workers To Serious Hazards

Fresh From Texas Inc. and iWorks Personnel Inc. fined a total of $135,200

Fresh From Texas Inc., a fresh fruit and vegetable processer for H-E-B Grocery stores and fast-food markets, and staffing agency iWorks Personnel Inc. have been cited for 18 violations by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for exposing workers to damaging noise levels, chemical hazards and possible amputation hazards for failing to train machine operators on controlling hazardous energy. The total proposed fine for the complaint inspection that began in December 2013 is $135,200.

"Workers, whether employed directly by the company or as a temporary worker, require proper training on workplace hazards. In this case, both Fresh From Texas and iWorks failed to do so and put workers in danger," said Kelly C. Knighton, OSHA's area director in San Antonio. "Both host employers and staffing agencies have roles in complying with workplace health and safety requirements, and they share responsibility for ensuring worker safety and health."

Fresh From Texas was cited for 12 serious safety and health violations, with a penalty of $76,100, for failing to prevent workers from exposure to hazardous chemicals; to identify and evaluate respiratory hazards in the workplace; and to ensure a hearing conservation program was implemented for workers exposed to noise levels that would cause permanent hearing damage. Regarding slicing and dicing machines, violations were cited for failing to establish a written lockout/tagout program for energy sources to ensure machines were turned off when workers were inside them; provide machine operators with training; guard rotating gears; and provide safety instructions on the machines.

Two repeat violations were cited, with a penalty of $49,500, for failing to ensure sufficient working space around electrical equipment and unobstructed access to fire extinguishers. Similar violations were cited in 2012. Three other violations, with a penalty of $3,300, were cited for failing to record injuries of temporary workers, review the log for accuracy and ensure safety instructions were clearly posted on dangerous machines.

OSHA inspectors found that temporary workers employed by iWorks Personnel were also exposed to chemical hazards and were not trained on chemical safety. As a result, OSHA cited iWorks for one serious safety and health violation, with a penalty of $6,300.

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

In April 2013, OSHA announced an initiative to improve workplace safety and health for temporary workers. During the inspection, OSHA inspectors paid special attention to the hazards facing temporary workers to determine the role the host employer and the staffing agency played in the dangers.

Fresh From Texas employs about 515 workers at its San Antonio facility. iWorks Personnel employs about 130 workers in both the San Antonio and Houston areas. The companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.

The citations can be viewed at:
http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Fresh_From_Texas_Inc_953367_0627_14.pdf,
http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Fresh_From_Texas_Inc_953588_0627_14.pdf and 
http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/iWorksPersonnelInc_dba_PreferredStaffingLLC.pdf.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov. 

SOURCE: Occupational Safety & Health Administration

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