Texas feed company faces $83K OSHA fine

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis contact

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock
Missing guardrails, handrails and fire extinguishers along with wiring concerns were among the safety violations reported for CPE Feeds.

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspected the Texas-based feed manufacturer as part of a regional emphasis program for grain handling facilities.

The findings​ generated a $83,059 fine for the company.

As an employer, CPE Feeds must protect its employees from amputation, electrocution and grain-handling hazards,”​ said Elizabeth Routh, OSHA's area director in Lubbock. “It must also train its workers in how to work safely. Our emphasis program will continue to target the industry and CPE Feeds until safety becomes part of a critical part of this company's culture.

Specific citations

Safety violations found during the inspection included that employees in the production area were exposed to health and fire hazards, and the company did not ensure that fire extinguishers were kept in designated places, said OSHA. Also, some staircases lacked hand railings and proper noise protection was not used.

Lacking guardrails also meant that employees faced potential fall risks when engaged in some maintenance procedures, said the agency. “Employees accessing the runway between the cotton seed silo and the main plant were exposed to unprotected falls of greater than four feet while unclogging the cotton seed pit and pipes,”​ it added.

Other hazards reported included the potential for employees to be hit when acetylene and oxygen cylinders were not secured or when using a modified forklift, noted OSHA. And employees working near the extruder, press and screener with an unguarded auger ran the risk of being caught in the machine, it reported.

“The employer did not ensure oxygen cylinders, in the maintenance building, not in use were stored at least 20 feet away from fuel-gas cylinders, and exposed employees to fire hazards,”​ said OHSA.

Additionally, not all safety guards separating employees from different pieces of machinery were present and some wheel and chain systems were not enclosed, said the safety watchdog. And employees faced electrical hazards in areas where energized wires were exposed or where flexible electrical cords were used incorrectly, it found.

What’s next?

A copy of the violations documented has to be posted at the company near where the issue was found for three days or until the issues has been resolved, said OSHA.

CPE Feeds also has a range of responses it can take for the citation, said the agency.

The company has 15 working days to have an informal conference on the matter. “During such an informal conference you may present any evidence or views which you believe would support an adjustment to the citations and/or penalty(ies),” ​according to OSHA.

The conference offers a way to discuss abatement steps taken and could generate an informal settlement agreement that closes the matter without resulting in litigation or contest, said the agency.

The company also has the same time period to state it will contest the reported findings, or to pay the listed penalties.

“You may contest all citation items or only individual items,” ​said OSHA. The company also has the ability to address specific penalties or the established dates for abatement without contesting the violation.

The company did not reply to our request for comment prior to publication.

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