The Indiana Department of Labor recently fined three Northwest Indiana companies for safety violations that were in some cases deemed to be repeat or serious.

The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued safety orders finding workplace hazards at Hearthside Food Solutions in Michigan City, Jupiter Aluminum in Hammond and Resco Products in Hammond.

The state fined Hearthside $17,500, Jupiter Aluminum $14,000 and Resco Products $18,825. It ordered the companies to take corrective action to safeguard workers.

The companies did not respond to requests for comment.

State inspectors went to Hearthside Food Solutions at 502 W. U.S. 20 last summer and found repeat violations.

“One or more methods of machine guarding was not provided to protect the operator and other employees in the machine area from hazards such as those created by point of operation, ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips and sparks,” the Indiana Department of Labor said in a safety order.

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Another safety violation was found in the packaging department that Hearthside Food Solutions had previously been cited for.

“An employee was exposed to an ingoing nip point where the conveyor belt traveled under the idler roller. The employee was performing a blow and go belt cleaning,” the safety order stated.

Jupiter Aluminum at 1745 165th St. in Hammond was found to have a serious safety violation after employees were exposed to falling hazards when unjamming the Red Giant Hammel Bale Breaker in the East Building last year. State inspectors found the company had not established procedures for energy control, such as shutting the equipment down.

State inspectors also reported several serious safety violations at Resco Products at 5501 Kennedy Avenue in Hammond, including exposing employees to fire and explosion hazards where combustible dust was present.

“The employer did not establish and maintain conditions of work which were reasonably safe and healthful for employees, and free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees,” the Indiana Department of Labor said in its safety order.

The state cited the company for failing to design the facility to reasonably prevent serious injury from flash fires, to complete a dust hazards analysis, to train employees about hazards and to establish safe work practices to mitigate any fires or explosions, such as doing frequent enough housecleaning to keep combustible dust from building up to dangerous levels.

Indiana Department of Labor inspectors also found the company exposed workers to fall hazards with an incomplete guardrail, that employees were exposed to fires and burns by operating a liquid propane gas-powered forklift in the combustible dust and that there wasn’t enough machine guarding to protect workers from the hazard of rotating parts from an unguarded augur while they were working to unclog it, according to the safety order. The state also faulted the company for having a space heater, heat lamp and equipment wiring in an area with combustible dust, exposing workers to fire or explosion hazards.

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