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Tyson Faces Fines over Hazards at Meat Plant

25 November 2013

US - US meat processing giant Tyson Foods faces fines of more than $120,000 for safety hazards found at its Buffalo New York processing plant.

The US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Tyson Foods Inc. for repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards following an inspection at its Buffalo manufacturing plant.

The processor and marketer of chicken, beef and pork faces a total of $121,720 in proposed fines.

The inspection, which began on May 15, was conducted under OSHA's Site Specific Targeting Program, which directs enforcement resources to high-hazard workplaces with the highest rates of injuries and illnesses.
"These new and recurring hazards exposed the plant's workers to falls, electrocution, burns, being caught in unexpectedly activated machinery and ammonia," said Art Dube, OSHA's area director in Buffalo.

"Tyson Foods needs to address these hazards quickly, effectively and completely, so they do not occur again."

OSHA found a cross section of mechanical, electrical and fall hazards, as well as several deficiencies in the plant's process safety management program for its refrigeration system that uses large amounts of ammonia.

The hazards include failing to guard skylights and roof hatchway, guard a press, provide safety-related work practices to prevent electric shock and arc flash burns, and provide workers with protective equipment when using energized equipment.

These conditions resulted in the issuance of 11 serious citations with $61,000 in fines. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The inspection also identified three hazards similar to those cited in Hutchinson, Kansas, Concordia, Missouri and Dakota City, Nebraska.

These recurring hazards involve failing to document that refrigeration equipment complied with generally accepted good engineering practices, guard floor holes and maintain a sufficient work space in front of electrical equipment.

Three repeat citations were issued with $60,720 in fines. A repeat violation exists when an employer has been cited previously for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any of its facilities in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

Arkansas-based Tyson Foods has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

 

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