Pepsi Bottler Fails US Workers

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One of Pepsi’s largest US bottlers,Β G&J Pepsi-Cola, faces $87,000 in US Labor Department OSHA penalties for exposing workers to repeat safety violations.

According to an OSHA News Release, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited PepsiCo‘s largest non-corporate owned bottler, G&J Pepsi-Cola, for seven workplace health and safety violations, carrying proposed penalties of $86,900. OSHA initiated an inspection of the Franklin Furnace, Ohio plant in July 2013 under its Site-Specific Targeting Program, which targets facilities with higher than average illness and injury rates.

Two of the safety violations are repeats and involve lockout/tagout procedures to prevent the unintentional startup of equipment during maintenance and servicing, “when employees are most at risk.” A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The same violations were cited in 2009 at the company’s Hamilton facility.

Additionally, five serious safety citations were issued to the company. A serious violation occurs “when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.”

G&J employs more than 1,600 people at 11 locations in Ohio and Kentucky, including production facilities in Lexington and Winchester, Ky., and in Columbus and Portsmouth, Ohio. G&J has distribution centers in Hamilton, Ripley, Hillsboro, Athens, Chillicothe, and Zanesville, and in Harrodsburg, Ky. The company has contested the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & 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 ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

The question remains: What will PepsiCo do?Β  Are their bottlers held to any standards at all? When asked, PepsiCo officially declined to comment.

Photo: Fillmore Photography

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