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Beef Packer Fined over Safety Breeches

09 July 2013

US - Caviness Beef Packing. in Hereford, Texas, faces fines of $120,000 for 25 safety violations.

US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the company for deficiencies in its process safety management program and various workplace hazards.

OSHA's Lubbock District Office initiated an inspection in January under the agency's Process Safety Management Covered Chemical Facilities National Emphasis Program.

PSM encompasses a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers must proactively follow to address hazards associated with processes and equipment that use large amounts of hazardous chemicals. In this case, the chemical was anhydrous ammonia in the refrigeration system. The intent of the NEP is to conduct focused inspections at facilities randomly selected from a list of work sites likely to have highly hazardous chemicals in quantities covered by the standard.

Twenty-three serious violations, with a penalty of $118,000, regard PSM, electrical, confined space and lockout-tagout of hazardous energy sources and respirator protection standards.

Some of the serious PSM violations include failing to develop a written plan of action ensuring worker involvement in the PSM program; conduct inspections and tests of process equipment, such as compressors and pressure vessels; implement management-of-change procedures for the replacement of ammonia process equipment; conduct an investigation following the release of ammonia from a leaking shaft seal on a compressor; conduct incident investigations within 48 hours following ammonia vapour releases from pipes and valves; and provide workers with the appropriate respirator for chlorine and sodium hydroxide releases.

"Process safety management prevents the unexpected release of toxic, reactive or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals," said JoAnn Figueroa, OSHA's area director in El Paso. "It's vital that Caviness ensures safeguards are in place to protect its workers."

Two “other-than-serious” violations, with a penalty of $2,000, were cited for failing to ensure all workers had access to material safety data sheets for anhydrous ammonia and that they were provided adequate training and information regarding the hazards of anhydrous ammonia.

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