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State issues safety citations after Lovell sugar factory death

The Western Sugar Cooperative has been cited for 12 safety violations in connection with a Jan. 4 death at the coperative's Lovell factory. The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing penalties that total $71,000, the agency announced in a Thursday afternoon news release.

A 28-year-old employee, Anfesa “Ky” Galaktionoff, died after falling through a floor opening in the facility's beet wheel processing pit.

Wyoming Department of Workforce Services Director Joan Evans said in a statement that "this tragic loss of life could have been prevented," saying that inspectors found Western Sugar did not have required guarding around floor openings.

Eleven of the citations are classifed as serious violations, or violations that could cause a fatal or serious accident or illness. Those citations say Western Sugar did not have proper signs or railings or adequate guards on some mechanical equipment, among other problems in the facility.

The other citation is classified as a repeated serious violation. It is based on inspectors' findings that a buildup of debris and foam made it difficult to see the unguarded opening of the processing pit, that there was sharp metal on the floor of the room and that there were signs of numerous spills in a chemical storage building that hadn't been adequately cleaned up. It's a repeated violation because Western Sugar had previously been cited for similar violations at its Torrington location.

The Western Sugar Cooperative has 15 days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Commission. The cooperative is owned by sugar beet growers in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado and Nebraska.

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