Star Snacks Co. has been fined $180,000 for wilfully exposing employees to carbon monoxide and dangerous noise levels.
The US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) hit the roasted nut manufacturer for two wilful and six serious safety violations at the Bayonne facility.
The wilful violations, carrying a $140,000 penalty, were because employees were exposed to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
Overexposure can cause dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness and death.
Carbon monoxide danger
To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in the workplace, employers should install an effective ventilation system, avoid the use of fuel-burning equipment in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces and use carbon monoxide detectors in areas where it is a concern, said OSHA.
"A forklift operator was overexposed to carbon monoxide and hospitalized in 2007, but Star Snacks Co. still doesn't have the necessary safeguards in place to protect its employees from carbon monoxide, noise and other workplace hazards," said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA's Parsippany area office.
Star Snacks began importing and packaging nuts for the retail and wholesale markets in 1992.
Star Snacks response
A spokesman for the firm told FoodQualityNews.com that it was aware of the alleged violations that OSHA had made public.
“Employee safety and health is a paramount concern of Star Snacks and we take each and every citation very seriously,” he said.
“The company has taken immediate action to address alleged violations.
“Prior to the press release, an informal conference was scheduled for the May 19, with the OSHA Area Director, to thoroughly review and demonstrate the actions already taken to address these matters.”
The company was also cited for its failure to provide baseline and annual audiograms and implement controls to reduce noise levels.
Serious violations, with a $40,000 penalty, were issued because the company failed to provide employees training in chemical and noise hazards.
Other citations were issued for failing to provide suitable hearing protection; ensure employees who experienced hearing loss were refitted and retrained in the use of hearing protectors and implement a written chemical hazard communication program.