A local spiedie sauce plant has been cited by OSHA after an employee had a medical issue while cleaning a vinegar tank last fall.

A release from the U.S. Department of Labor said that an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspection found that the Rob Salamida Co. food manufacturing plant in Johnson City lacked numerous safeguards required to protect employees whose work require them to enter confined spaces.

On September 28th, an employee was overcome by acetic and acid vapors created by vinegar while he was cleaning the insides of a 3,000-gallon vinegar tank.

He was rescued and hospitalized for five days.

As a result of the investigation, Rob Salamida Co. has been cited for one willful violation and 11 serious violations of workplace safety standards and proposed fines totaling $79,600.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

According to the Department of Labor, specific confined space hazards included the company’s failure to:

– Evaluate the workplace to identify confined spaces, including three, 3,000-gallon vinegar tanks.
– Identify confined space hazards inside the tank such as oxygen deficiency and acetic acid vapors.
– Develop and implement procedures and practices to verify and maintain safe entry conditions.
– Provide air monitoring, ventilation and rescue equipment for employees entering confined spaces.
– Ensure that monitoring was conducted by trained employees.
– Train employees on confined space hazards.
– Develop and maintain confined space rescue procedures.
– Post warning signs for confined spaces.

Other hazards found during OSHA’s inspection included: 

– No procedures, training or devices to lock out machines’ power sources to protect against their unintended startup.
– Inadequate respiratory protection.
– Not properly training employees to operate forklifts.
– Lack of emergency eyewashes and splash goggles for employees working with caustic chemicals.
– No chemical hazard communication program and training for employees.
– Unguarded fan blades; unlabeled electric circuit breakers.

You can view the full citation by clicking here.