A New York food manufacturer could be looking at a hefty find after OSHA cited the Johnson City plant with 12 health and safety violations stemming from injuries an employee suffered while cleaning a vinegar tank.

According to OSHA, on Sept. 28 last year, an employee at the Rob Salamida Co. manufacturing plant climbed into a 3,000-gallon tank containing vinegar which he was instructed to clean. Once inside, the employee was overcome by the acetic acid vapors released by the vinegar and fell from a ladder. The employee was rescued from the tank, but was hospitalized for five days.

“This incident, and the resulting severe injuries to this worker, should never have happened,” says Christopher Adams, OSHA’s Syracuse area director who pointed out the facility lacked safeguards needed to protect employees while working in confined spaces. “Workers who enter confined spaces risk being overcome, sometimes fatally, by toxic and oxygen-deficient atmospheres. OSHA standards require that employers identify confined spaces in their workplaces and maintain a comprehensive and effective confined space program so that no worker is sickened or injured. That was not the case at the Salamida plant.”

Owner Rob Salamida told the Press & Sun Bulletin the company plans on contesting the allegations though he does not take them lightly. Salamida says some of OSHA’s facts in this case are incorrect.

In addition with the 12 citations, OSHA has proposed fines totaling $79,600. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.