OSHA initially inspected Kirkplan Kitchens on Aug. 1, 2003, after receiving information that employees were being exposed to serious safety hazards. The company was issued a citation for five alleged serious violations with a proposed penalty of $1,425.
After the company failed to provide certification to OSHA that the hazards had been corrected, an investigator returned to the facility on Nov. 24. During that inspection, employees were again observed exposed to two of the cited hazards â€” an unguarded table saw and improperly stored flammable liquid. The proposed penalties for these reported "failure-to-abate" violations, which now included the number of days employees continued to be exposed to the hazards, rose to $22,500.
The investigator also observed new electrical hazards and the use of unapproved plastic piping to distribute compressed air throughout the plant, exposing employees to the danger of exploding pipes. These citations carried proposed penalties of $7,600.
Again the company failed to contact OSHA, and the agency returned to the facility a third time on March 5 and observed that unauthorized plastic piping was still being used to carry compressed air throughout the plant. The proposed penalty for this hazard, $2,000, was increased to $46,000, based on a formula in the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
"This company could have contacted us to discuss the citations and penalties," said Les Grove, OSHA's Tampa area director, "but they chose to do nothing."