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Safety violation: Anhydrous ammonia leak threatens workers

Most food processing, meatpacking and poultry plants in Ohio and other states use massive amounts of anhydrous ammonia in their refrigeration systems. Business owners of facilities that use this lethal substance to run their refrigeration facilities have an enormous responsibility to prevent leaks that can cause fatalities if workers are exposed. Such a safety violation was recently identified at one Pilgrim's Pride plant in another state.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued citations following an investigation after an industrial accident at the plant last September threatened the lives of workers. The leak in the ammonia system led to citations for two serious and two repeat violations. OSHA authorities said the plant's failure to have preventative processes in place allowed the release of anhydrous ammonia.

The agency said the company's analysis program to monitor the release of ammonia and similar hazards is ineffective and needs significant changes. OSHA will continue monitoring the company's progress in bringing about the necessary changes and improvements. The prescribed changes will positively affect the safety of equipment and procedures along with more effective safety training.

OSHA records show that several of the company's plants nationwide have been cited for exposing workers to workplace hazards. Each safety violation can potentially cause serious injuries to workers. The financial impact of such workplace injuries can be devastating to a worker, especially if he or she loses wages in the process. Benefits claims may be pursued through the Ohio workers' compensation insurance program that will cover medical expenses and a portion of the injured worker's average weekly wages.

Source: wacotrib.com, "Pilgrim's Pride plant in Waco fined for safety violations", Mike Copeland, March 31, 2016

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Morgan & Justice Co., LPA

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