Given that every worker should expect a workplace free of safety hazards, officials have to invoke fines and citations when that is not the case.
Case in point, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently cited Caviness Beef Packing Ltd. in Hereford, Texas, with 25 safety violations. Proposed penalties total $120,000 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.
Company Hit With 23 Serious Violations
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 vapor releases from pipes and valves; and provide workers with the appropriate respirator for chlorine and sodium hydroxide releases.
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.
Vital To Ensure Safeguards Are In Place
“Process safety management prevents the unexpected release of toxic, reactive or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals,” remarked 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. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: email@example.com.
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