Fort Worth, Texas-based Five Star Custom Foods was the subject of a recent inspection from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which issued the company 25 serious safety and health violations. OSHA also announced that subcontractor Packers Sanitation Services Inc. was cited for two serious violations regarding hazardous chemical exposure.
The workers were exposed to the chemicals at the firm's Fort Worth facility, and together, the fines amount to $134,000.
The investigation started on June 12 and was a part of OSHA's national emphasis program on process safety management, or PSM, which in this case focused on covered chemical facilities. During the inspection, OSHA officials found that as employees conducted their day-to-day activities inside the plant's refrigeration system, they were working in poor conditions and were exposed to a "catastrophic release" of harsh chemicals.
"Exposing employees to highly hazardous chemicals, such as anhydrous ammonia, can be fatal," said Jack Rector, the agency's area director in Fort Worth. "OSHA's standards must be followed to prevent accidents and illnesses."
OSHA issued 14 serious violations that stemmed from the company failing to take appropriate measures to make sure equipment used in its processes was in compliance with strong engineering practices. OSHA stated the company also did not listen to the recommendations that were made in its process hazard analysis, and it did not receive annual certification of its operating procedures. The facility also did not have an ammonia detector installed, and workers had not been informed of the dangers of what could happen during a chemical release. The agency also found the company had not conducted OSHA maintenance compliance audits at least every three years.
Another 11 citations were given out for a lack of machine-specific lockout/tagout procedures, excessive slip, trip and fall hazards, obstructed exits and a failure to fix faulty wires.
To help facilities meet federal expectations, the agency has developed its OSHA Compliance Assistance Quick Start guide, which focuses on specific industries, and provides an overview of what businesses can do to remain or become compliant. Failure to do so, as well as a lack of compliance records, can result in asset downtime, and in turn, lower profits.
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