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Region 5 News Release: 09-694-CHI
June 22, 2009
Contact: Brad Mitchell or Scott Allen
Phone: 312-353-6976

U.S. Labor Department's OSHA proposes more than $1.1 million in penalties to Milk Specialties Co. in Whitehall, Wis.

WHITEHALL, Wis. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Milk Specialties Co. in Whitehall with violations of federal workplace safety and health standards and proposed $1,145,200 in penalties.

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 have been 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. Proposed penalties for the 17 willful violations total $1,071,000. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

"I am committed to ensuring workers return home to their families safe and healthy at the end of every shift," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "Employers must fully address hazards, properly train their employees and plan their work in a safe manner."

Seventeen serious citations, with proposed penalties totaling $52,400, include combustible dust and electrical hazards; lack of exit route lighting and signage; lack of confined space evaluations; uninspected fire extinguishers; and untrained and uncertified powered industrial truck operators, among other issues. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result if an accident were to occur from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Four repeat violations with penalties totaling $21,800 address