Apr 23, 2014 8:04 PM by Q2 News
BILLINGS - Cenex Harvest States has been issued 19 citations from OSHA for violating workplace safety and health standards.
OSHA has also proposed $211,000 in penalties.
The citations come from inspections conducted at grain facilities in Cut Bank, Glendive, Denton and Valier.
"OSHA is very concerned about grain elevators," said OSHA Billings Area Director Jeff Funke. "We started an outreach campaign in 2010, we sent out over 13,000 letters nationwide. Since that point we've been doing proactive inspections to identify hazards in this industry, and get them corrected before individuals were hurt."
That campaign was a result of a record number of grain entrapments in 2010 that resulted in the death of 31 workers nationwide.
Of the 19 citations issued by OSHA, 14 are considered "serious," three are repeat violations and two fall under the "other-than-serious" category.
Funke said CHS failed to test the air quality for hazardous gases and combustible dust.
"With grain dust, it can settle on ledges, elevated surfaces, the floor," Funke said. "And if there is ignition, there is a smaller explosion but that smaller explosion can knock all of the dust loose from elevated surfaces and saturate the air and then cause a much larger explosion. Unfortunately, we've had several of those around the nation."
Other serious violations include inadequate confined space entry and recovery procedures. A press release by OSHA explains this can result in immediate death, incapacitation or impede the ability to be rescued.
They also found inadequate machine guarding, which exposes workers to amputations and lacerations and obstructed exit routes, which can lead to entrapment.
The press release states a serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard which the employer knew about or should have known.
The fines are proposed at this time and CHS still has an opportunity to meet with OSHA officials and correct the violations.