The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed hefty fines for Russell Stover Candies and Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation, citing both companies with multiple safety violations stemming from ammonia leaks that occurred at their plants last September. Federal inspectors cited Pilgrim’s Pride for four violations after 79 pounds of anhydrous ammonia was released at its Waco, TX facility. The company faces more than $122,000 in proposed fines.
“Anhydrous ammonia can have devastating and lethal effects," says Jack Rector, OSHA’s area director in Fort Worth. “Had Pilgrim’s had the right processes in place, this ammonia release may have been prevented. We will continue to monitor the company’s progress as it makes much-needed improvements to equipment, procedures and training to keep its workers safe.”
OSHA issued two repeat citations to Pilgrim’s for failing to implement proper standard operating procedures. Inspectors also found the company’s inspections and equipment testing were not completed as scheduled or documented as required. In addition, the agency issued serious citations for Pilgrim’s failure to use proper methods to prevent over-pressurization and explosions in the ammonia refrigeration system and for placing the control and maintenance room facilities within the ammonia refrigeration engine room that exposed employees to fire and inhalation hazards.
OSHA also proposed fining Russell Stover more than $193,000 after identifying 19 violations related to the release of 22 pounds of anhydrous ammonia into the air when an air conditioning unit pipe failed at its Kansas facility. No workers were injured in the incident, which closed the plant for more than two hours. Because of the incident, OSHA placed Russell Stover in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.