When OSHA enforcement personnel arrived at Albion Mill in Albion, Pennsylvania on Feb. 10, 2016, they expected to find hazards identified during a 2013 inspection abated.

Instead, they found that the company:

  • Allowed employees without proper safety equipment to enter a grain-handling bin.
  • Allowed machines to be operated with unguarded belts, pulleys and shafts.
  • Failed to develop or implement a housekeeping program to prevent worker exposure to combustible dust hazards caused by accumulated grain and feed products.
  • Did not maintain inspection certification records when servicing equipment.
  • Failed to train employees on use of portable fire extinguishers.
  • Had an unguarded, 28-inch deep pit.
  • Had electrical hazards in the workplace.
  • Failed to train workers on chemical hazards.
  • Had no written and implemented hazard communication program.
  • Had no lockout/tagout procedures, which prevent accidental machine start-up or movement.

Serious violations included:

  • Deficiencies in lockout/tagout procedures and training.
  • Unguarded machine parts.
  • Use of damaged equipment.
  • Employee exposure to fall hazards.
  • Improper storage of propane cylinders.
  • Workers permitted to enter grain handling facility bin without a permit.
  • Lack of employee training on engulfment hazards.
  • An unguarded pit resulted in the other-than-serious violations.

"Our follow-up inspection at Albion Mill found employees continue to be exposed to severe combustible dust issues. In some areas, 6 inches or more of dust had accumulated, creating a dangerous risk of explosion," said Theresa A. Naim, director of OSHA's Erie Area Office. "This company had ample opportunity, time and guidance to correct the hazardous conditions but chose business as usual by disregarding the safety of its employees."

Proposed penalties:$195,460

After receipt of the citations, the company requested an informal conference with OSHA's area director, which took place on Aug. 8, 2016, and is still ongoing.

For more information on OSHA standards for grain handling facilities, visit https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/grainhandling/