Safety Fines at TX Meatpacking Plant

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 @ 05:07 PM gHale

Caviness Beef Packing Ltd. in Hereford, TX, is facing fines of $120,000 for 25 safety violations for deficiencies in its process safety management program and various workplace hazards, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

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

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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, focus on 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.

“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 for failing to ensure all workers had access to material safety data sheets for anhydrous ammonia and that they had 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.

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