May 20, 2020
MITCHELL, SD – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Custom Genetic Solutions LLC – a bull stud facility in Mitchell, South Dakota – for exposing workers to hazardous chemicals and toxic substances after an employee fatality. The company faces penalties of $122,602 for two willful and three serious violations.
OSHA received an employer-reported referral from Custom Genetic Solutions LLC that an employee asphyxiated from lack of oxygen due to the use of liquid nitrogen in the facility. Inspectors found that employees filled containers daily and cryogenic freezers weekly with liquid nitrogen. OSHA determined the company failed to implement safety measures, such as oxygen monitoring or ventilation to ensure that the rapidly expanding liquid nitrogen did not displace the oxygen in the room. Additionally, the company failed to train employees on potential health and physical hazards from working with nitrogen gas, and on how to detect the accumulation and release of the gas.
“This employer failed to take necessary steps to protect employees from a potentially oxygen-deficient atmosphere,” said OSHA Sioux Falls Area Director Sheila Stanley. “Employers must assess their workplaces for potential hazards and implement control measures to prevent injuries, illnesses, and fatalities.”
OSHA’s Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs provides employers with a plan for managing safety and health within their workplaces, including hazard identification and assessment, hazard prevention and control, and education and training.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the 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.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit https://www.osha.gov.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.
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