Hereford, Texas, meatpacking plant cited by US Department of Labor's OSHA
for failing to protect workers from various workplace hazards
Caviness Beef Packing fined $120,000 for 25 safety violations
LUBBOCK, Texas – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has 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.
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.
"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 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.
The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/CavinessBeefPackingLtd_810501_0701_13.pdf*.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with the area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's El Paso area office at 915-534-6251 or Lubbock district office at 806-472-7681.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions exist for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 292-693-7828 or TTY 292-693-7755.
* Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.