Chilton-based Breiss Industries, a supplier of malt barley to breweries and other food production companies in the Midwest, has been cited by OSHA for 16 safety and health violations which were found by federal safety inspectors at the company's Manitowoc facility.
The company, which operates its Manitowoc malthouse at 705 Washington St., is also facing $174,351 in fines.
Breiss Industries, which operates as Breiss Malt & Ingredients Co., exposed workers to amputation and other injuries by failing to put in place test procedures for controlling hazardous energy before servicing and maintenance, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Labor.
In 2019, OSHA cited Breiss Industries for what the organization says were “similar violations.”
Bill Schaeffer, vice president of sales and marketing at Breiss Industries, said those violations did not happen at the Manitowoc facility. He explained the 2019 citation was related to an incident at the Chilton Insta Grains plant where an employee did not follow cleaning procedures, which resulted in fractured fingers.
"Briess employee health and safety remain our first priority," said the company in a statement. "We will continue to work cooperatively with OSHA to address their findings and we will make sure that our facilities are being operated at the highest standards of health and safety. This includes ensuring that our programs are fully effective, and that we continue to make capital and equipment investments to support that mission."
In addition to its Wisconsin facilities in Chilton and Manitowoc, the company has a barley facility in Ralston, Wyoming.
The press release states Breiss Industries also failed to assess the safety and health hazards of malthouse confined spaces, as required by law. Inspectors also found the company's safety failures exposed employees to fall hazards from the roof, and entanglement and amputation hazards created by unguarded augers.
"Dangers like those we identified in this inspection are common in the manufacturing industry," said Robert Bonack, OSHA's area director in Appleton. "Briess Industries again put workers who convert barley into malt at risk of serious machine hazards and other dangers."
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its 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.
“It’s really all about us working directly with OSHA. Making sure we’re taking care of our employees is the biggest thing," said Schaeffer. "They are the most important asset we have and we are doing everything OSHA has asked us to do."