Oscar Mayer Agrees to Pay $211,000 Fine Following Worker Death

Oscar Mayer Foods agreed to pay a $211,000 OSHA penalty and improve plant safety after an ammonia release in December at its Madison, Wisc., facility killed one worker and seriously injured another.

Company spokeswoman Sarah Delea said the company plans to begin training its 1,650 employees about hazard recognition within 45 days. She said Oscar Mayer will create a permit system for working on equipment containing ammonia.

Delea said OSHA is still searching for a cause for the accident, but in the meantime, wants the company to "look at strengthening our safety and process management and enhancing our documentation." She added, "We want to make sure what happened in December doesn't happen ever again."

OSHA conducted investigations at the Oscar Mayer facility in December and February, said Kimberly Stille, Madison-area OSHA director.

During the first inspection, which was prompted by the release of nearly 400 pounds of ammonia that killed employee Tim Hubacher and seriously injured a second employee, Tom McMillan, OSHA cited the company for alleged deficiencies in its process safety management, respiratory protection issues, lack of hazard communications training, process safety and hazard analysis and lack of operating procedures.

A second, comprehensive investigation resulted in citations for inadequate machine guarding, electrical hazards, inadequate confined space training and safety precautions and problems with stairs and exits. According to Delea, many of those problems have already been fixed.

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