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OSHA News Release – Region 6
U.S. Department of Labor
Region 6 News Release: OSHA-04-634-DAL
Fri, April 9, 2004
Contact: Diana Petterson or Elizabeth Todd
Phone: (214) 767-4776, ext. 222 or 221
TEXARKANA, Ark. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued citations to Tyson Foods Inc. in Texarkana, Ark., for alleged willful and serious violations of health and safety standards following the October death of an employee who was asphyxiated when he inhaled hydrogen sulfide. OSHA has proposed penalties of $436,000 for the alleged violations.
Tyson Foods Inc. and Tyson Poultry Inc. were cited for five willful, 12 serious and two other violations following an OSHA inspection at the River Valley Animal Foods facility. The inspection began Oct. 10 after an employee who was repairing leaks on a hydrolyser was asphyxiated after inhaling hydrogen sulfide. A hydrolyser processes chicken feathers to make an additive for high-end pet foods. Hydrogen sulfide is a poisonous gas created by decaying organic matter. Headquartered in Springdale, Ark., Tyson Foods employs about 120,000 workers at more than 300 locations nationwide. The Texarkana plant employs about 98 workers.
The alleged willful violations were for failing to protect employees from exposure to excessive amounts of hydrogen sulfide; failing to develop, maintain and implement a proper written hazard communication program; failing to properly identify hazardous chemicals and failing to properly train employees in the detection and hazards of exposure to hydrogen sulfide. Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
The alleged serious violations include failure to: identify and evaluate respiratory hazards in the workplace; ensure proper breathing apparatus were worn by employees engaged in emergency response activities; develop and implement a proper emergency response plan; properly test employees required to wear a respirator; ensure that respirators were available; and ensure that persons trained to render first aid were available to render aid. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
The other violations were for failing to properly maintain the OSHA Form 300 Log of Occupational Injuries and Illness and failing to properly maintain the OSHA 301 form or equivalent for each work-related injury or illness.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA Little Rock area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA's mission is to assure safe and healthful working conditions in the United States by enforcing occupational safety and health standards; providing outreach, assistance and training; establishing partnerships; and working with the States to promote safe and healthful workplaces. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
U.S. Labor Department releases are accessible on the Internet at <http://www.dol.gov>. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request at (202) 693-7765 or TTY (202) 693-7755. The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit <http://www.dol.gov/compliance>.
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