Tropicana Beverages North America has agreed to pay more than US$164,000 in fines for exposing workers to safety hazards at its Bradenton processing plant.

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched the investigation in October 2005, after two mechanics were seriously burned by a flash fire during maintenance operations.

The company was cited for failing to take adequate precautions to prevent the ignition of flammable vapours produced by a solvent used to clean sludge from compressors.

"Tropicana has successfully resolved this matter with OSHA and is moving forward with improving upon our long time excellent safety record," said Mike Haycock, the company's vice president of operations. "Our Bradenton plant has an incidence rate that is far lower than others in our industry.

Tropicana, the orange juice division of PepsiCo, immediately addressed many of the problems and is working to correct others, said Haycock. Strict operating procedures have also been implemented to prevent future problems.