OSHAOSHA has cited Southwest Feed Mills Inc. with 12 serious safety violations for exposing workers to combustible dust, falls, unguarded machines and other hazards at the company's Dallas facility. A December 2011 inspection was initiated as part of OSHA's Regional Emphasis Program on Grain Handling Facilities. Proposed penalties total $45,000.

The violations include failing to provide fall protection equipment, train workers on the use of powered industrial trucks, ensure that moving machinery parts are guarded, ensure receiving-pit feed openings are covered by grates to prevent workers from falling into the pit, ensure that the bucket elevator is not jogged to prevent igniting combustible materials, ensure that electrical equipment is approved for locations containing combustible dust, implement a housekeeping program to control combustible dust and develop confined space procedures.

"Excessive amounts of fugitive grain dust at this grain handling facility expose workers to possible fires and explosions," said Stephen Boyd, director of OSHA's Dallas Area Office. "These violations demonstrate the company's lax attitude toward protecting its workers from serious injuries at this facility. Employers must provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees."

OSHA's regional emphasis programs are intended to address hazards or industries that pose a risk to workers in a particular jurisdiction. The grain handling industry is a high-hazard industry in which workers can be exposed to many serious and life-threatening hazards. These include fires and explosions from grain dust accumulation, suffocation from engulfment and entrapment in grain bins, falls from heights, and crushing injuries and amputations from equipment. More information on grain handling facilities is available at www.osha.gov/SLTC/grainhandling/index.html.

Southwest Feed Mills, which employs about nine workers who handle and manufacture a wide variety of animal feed, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Dallas area director or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.