Tyson Foods cited for repeat OSHA violations

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 182 views 

Tyson Foods Inc. was recently cited for “repeat and serious violations of workplace standards” following a federal inspection of its prepared food plant in Buffalo, N.Y.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Labor reported that Tyson faces a total of $121,720 in proposed fines related to high-hazard workplace violations.

The plant was inspected in May, but the violations were not release by OSHA until Nov. 19.

"These new and recurring hazards exposed the plant's workers to falls, electrocution, burns, being caught in unexpectedly activated machinery and ammonia," said Art Dube, OSHA's area director in Buffalo. "Tyson Foods needs to address these hazards quickly, effectively and completely, so they do not occur again."

Tyson Foods said it is reviewing the citations, and given the nature and extent of the alleged violations, the company will likely contest OSHA’s findings.

“Workplace safety is a cultural value at our company. At all times, we expect the highest standards for the safety and health of our team members across all of Tyson Foods’ operations. Our efforts include safety policies and training, and the involvement of workers in our safety committees,” said Tyson spokesman Worth Sparkman.

OSHA said it found a cross section of mechanical, electrical and fall hazards, as well as several deficiencies in the plant's process safety management program for its refrigeration system that uses large amounts of ammonia.

The hazards include failing to guard skylights and roof hatchway, guard a press, provide safety-related work practices to prevent electric shock and arc flash burns, and provide workers with protective equipment when using energized equipment.

These conditions resulted in the issuance of 11 serious citations with $61,000 in fines.

The inspection also identified three hazards similar to those cited in Hutchinson, Kan.; Concordia, Mo.; and Dakota City, Neb. These recurring hazards involve failing to document that refrigeration equipment complied with generally accepted good engineering practices, guard floor holes and maintain a sufficient work space in front of electrical equipment.

Three repeat citations were issued with $60,720 in fines. A repeat violation exists when an employer has been cited previously for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any of its facilities in federal enforcement states within the last five years.