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Region 5 News Release: 10-544-CHI
May 5, 2010
Contact: Scott Allen
Phone: 312-353-6976
E-mail: allen.scott@dol.gov

Milk Specialties Co. in Whitehall, Wis., agrees to pay $535,000 in penalties after US Labor Department's OSHA safety and health investigation

WHITEHALL, Wis. — Milk Specialties Co. in Whitehall has agreed to pay $535,000 in penalties as part of a legal settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration after being cited with willful, repeat and serious violations concerning combustible dust hazards, untrained employees working in potentially dangerous areas and a lack of proper permits for working in confined spaces.

"We are pleased that Milk Specialties Co. has recognized and agreed to abate the health and safety violations addressed in the settlement," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "Our number one concern is to ensure the safety and welfare of all workers. With this agreement, I am confident the company is moving in the right direction."

OSHA began a December 2008 inspection in response to a complaint alleging a variety of safety hazards at the company's whey processing plant. Willful citations were issued for the employer's failure to comply with OSHA's confined space entry and control of hazardous energy requirements. Untrained employees entered confined spaces and performed maintenance and cleaning on powered equipment without protection from various hazards. Penalties for the nine willful violations total $504,000. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Seventeen serious citations, with penalties totaling $21,855, address combustible dust and electrical hazards; lack of exit route lighting and signage; lack of confined space evaluations; uninspected fire extinguish