ERONA, MO — Two complaints of unsafe working conditions at a Verona nutrition production plant led federal safety and health inspectors to investigate allegations of worker exposure to multiple safety and health hazards, including toxic substances, combustible dust and moving machinery parts.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued 24 serious safety and health violations and proposed $300,759 in penalties to BCP Ingredients Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Balchem Corp.
Investigators cited multiple OSHA violations, including exposing workers to:
- Amputations due to lack of adequate machine guarding and hazardous energy control procedures, a process commonly known as lockout/tagout.
- Toxic and hazardous chemicals, such as ethylene oxide and methylene chloride, because of inadequate process safety management procedures and monitoring.
- Combustible dust hazards.
- Fall hazards of greater than 4 feet while walking on working surfaces.
- Electrical safety hazards.
OSHA also cited the company for exposing workers to struck-by and fall hazards from modified forklifts, failing to maintain eyewash stations near chemical use areas, and not training workers on how to identify and prevent hazards found in the production facility.
“This company’s failure to comply with safety and health requirements exposed hundreds of workers to toxic chemicals and unguarded machine hazards,” said OSHA Area Director Karena Lorek in Kansas City, Missouri. “OSHA will always respond to reports of unsafe working conditions to ensure employers meet their legal obligation to protect workers on the job.”
BCP Ingredients is part of Balchem’s Animal Nutrition and Health Division, which produces choline, nutrient encapsulation, chelated minerals and functional ingredients for feed and animal supplements. The Verona facility also produces food ingredients primarily for the baking industry. Based in New Hampton, New York, Balchem is one of the world’s largest producers of nutrition and health products for animal and human consumption. It employs more than 1,400 people worldwide.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.