Imperial Sugar settles OSHA citations

by Eric Schroeder
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SUGAR LAND, TEXAS — Imperial Sugar Co. has agreed to pay $6.05 million to settle citations issued by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) in connection with the Feb. 7, 2008, explosion at the company’s Port Wentworth, Ga., facility and a subsequent inspection at the company’s Gramercy, La., facility. OSHA had cited Imperial Sugar in July 2008 for alleged safety violations with a combined proposed penalty totaling $8.7 million.

Under terms of the settlement, Imperial Sugar made no admissions to OSHA’s allegations. In addition to paying the penalty, the company agreed to continue safety measures already implemented at Port Wentworth and Gramercy and to implement certain other measures regarding the safety and health of its employees.

“Imperial Sugar is pleased to solve the citations,” said John Sheptor, president and chief executive officer. “Imperial agreed to the terms with OSHA in order to settle these matters expeditiously and amicably, and to allow us to better concentrate our resources toward not only enhancing the safety of our own facilities, but also to assist the sugar industry as a whole in addressing workplace hazards.”

Since it was cited by OSHA in July 2008, Mr. Sheptor said Imperial Sugar has worked to collect and develop, through testing and other research efforts, information about the hazards of combustible dust specific to the sugar industry.

“Imperial’s extensive studies have guided us in implementing new hazard controls as we rebuilt our Port Wentworth facility as well as our existing facility in Gramercy,” he said. “We have learned much from our experts and our own studies regarding combustible dust, and we are sharing our knowledge throughout the industry to help others to be aware of the hazards of combustible dust.”

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