OSHA fines Hi-Line agricultural company

2012-08-07T16:35:00Z 2012-08-07T23:53:56Z OSHA fines Hi-Line agricultural companyBy JAN FALSTAD jfalstad@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

A food company in the small Hi-Line town of Hingham 35 miles west of Havre faces $82,000 in penalties for 13 workplace safety citations.

The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited American Pulses Ltd., for exposing workers to multiple hazards. The company that processes raw lentils, chickpeas, green peas and yellow peas has 15 days from receipt of the order to comply or contest the complaint.

OSHA levied the fines after a February follow-up inspection of the Hingham facility to see if changes recommended during an April 2011 inspection had been followed.

“It is unacceptable for an employer to renege on its legal responsibility to provide workers with a safe and healthful work environment,” said Jeff Funke, OSHA’s director in Billings.

Calls to American Pulses officials were not immediately returned.

Six of the repeat violations include failing to provide guardrails and lighting in the Hingham elevator, OSHA said. One of the serious violations concerned the accumulation of combustible dust.

In a separate case, OSHA cited and fined The Central Montana Co-Op, a division of CHS Inc., over dust control and other issues at its 70-year-old elevator in Columbus. Saying it couldn’t meet OSHA standards in a cost-effective manner, CHS decided last month to stop handling grain and processing bulk feed in Columbus by mid-August. However, other functions at the elevator will continue.

American Pulse is named after pulse crops that build up helpful nitrogen in soil.

In September 2010, then-president Anish Vaid said the newly formed company planned on expanding its operations in Montana by utilizing a new international rail hub.

The hub, capable of handling rail-to-boat-to-truck shipping containers, is under construction in Shelby. Vaid also said the company planned on creating 60 jobs in six rural Montana cities to ship flour and other products around the world.

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