As alarms sounded, hundreds of workers evacuated a candy manufacturing plant when an air-conditioning unit pipe failed and released about 22 lb of anhydrous ammonia into the air throughout an Iola, Kan., facility. No workers were injured in the incident, which closed the plant for more than two hours.

Following its investigation into the September 23, 2015, incident at Russell Stover Candies Inc.'s facility, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the company with three repeat, 14 serious and two other-than-serious safety violations. On March 31, OSHA proposed penalties of $193,600. The agency has also placed Russell Stover in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

The violations involve OSHA's process safety management standards. Among the violations cited by OSHA, one serious concern related to ammonia sensors. According to the complaint, the company failed to verify that the engine room complied with recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices such as IIAR Bulletin #111 06/02; ASHRAE-15 2013; ANSI/UAR 2-2012; and the manufacturer's manual. “The Scott Instruments QuadScan II - Model 7 400 Ammonia Sensors in the North and South Ammonia Rooms are mounted at 20 feet from the floor while the Manufacture Manual states that the unit location should have easy visibility and access for the operator,” reads the citation.

Another citation relates to the plant's operating procedures for ammonia process equipment failing to adequately address safety systems and their functions. The citation specifically calls out SOPs for emergency stop buttons, isolation devices (King Valves), interlocks, alarms, level cutouts, water spray systems, and emergency backup power.

Other citations relate to inadequate training for staff as defined by PSM and failure to produce incident reports for events in completeness.

Headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., Russell Stover Candies is owned by Lindt & Sprüngli Group, a German-based candy manufacturer of the Lindt, Whitman's and Ghirardelli brands.