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Region 2 News Release:    05-1781-NEW/BOS 2005-264
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074

Ammonia Leak at Buffalo Food Plant Leads to $37,500 in OSHA Fines

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A manufacturer of non-dairy creamers and desserts faces $37,500 in fines from the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) following a May 4 ammonia leak. Rich Products Inc. was cited for 15 alleged serious safety and health violations at its Buffalo plant.

OSHA's inspection found deficiencies in the plant's emergency response program and its process safety management system. Responders to the ammonia leak had not received annual refresher training, did not wear appropriate respiratory protection and personal protective equipment, and had not been fit-tested and medically evaluated for respirator use. Hazardous conditions associated with the response had not been identified and addressed, and appropriate air monitoring had not been performed.

The company also failed to develop and implement written operating procedures for the plant's ammonia systems; ammonia safety relief valves were not inspected and tested according to manufacturer's recommendations; ammonia alarms were not operational or fixed in a timely manner, and the company failed to develop and document responses to a 2003 process safety management audit of the refrigeration system.

"While no serious injuries occurred during the response to the leak, the potential was real," said Art Dube, OSHA's area director for western New York. "The workers who responded to this leak were lucky, but safety must never be a matter of luck."

OSHA also noted that plant employees were exposed to ammonia hazards from certain rooms that had doors and other openings that permitted passage of escaping refrigerants to other parts of the building or were not provided with a mechanical ventilation system.

A serious violation occurs when there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result to an employee from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Rich Products has 15 working days from receipt of its citations to comply with them or request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director. The company may also contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. OSHA's Buffalo area office, which conducted the inspection, can be reached at (716) 551-3053.

Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit

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Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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