OSHA fines Wisconsin plant $369,500 USA

By Dani Friedland on 9/2/2010

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced it has levied $369,500 in proposed fines against VPP Group LLC in Norwalk, Wis.

VPP Group processes beef for school lunch suppliers and fast-food companies. OSHA has inspected the company nine times and issued 24 citations since 1996. An inspection in 2009 followed the electrocution of a worker.

The bulk of the proposed penalties — $280,000 — come from two inspections earlier this year, after which OSHA issued four alleged willful citations. OSHA said the plant failed to perform hearing tests on employees who work in very noisy environments and didn’t record more than 125 injuries that occurred between 2007 and 2009 in the OSHA 300 injury log.

The agency also issued twenty serious citations for alleged violations including the lack of proper fall protection and hand rails, eye wash stations, hazardous energy control and fork lift training, personal protective equipment and worker protection against blood borne pathogens. VPP Group was also cited for improper hazardous chemical storage and overexposure to high noise levels. These citations account for $75,500 of the proposed penalties.

The remaining $14,000 of the proposed fine comes from 14 violations classified as “other-than-serious,” which involve failure to record illnesses and injuries since 2007.

Calls to VPP Group for comment were not immediately returned.

"The company's disregard for OSHA's injury and illness recordkeeping requirements could be seen as an attempt to hide poor health and safety practices," said OSHA Area Director Kim Stille in Madison, Wis., in a statement. "Indifference to safe practices and OSHA regulations is inviting tragedy into the lives of their workers."