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OSHA Hits Tyson Foods with $121,720 in Fines for Safety Violations at Buffalo Plant

Nov. 19, 2013
A spokesman for Tyson Foods said the company likely will contest OSHA's citations.

Tyson Foods Inc. is facing $121,720 in fines for alleged repeat and serious violations of OSHA standards at Tyson's manufacturing facility in Buffalo, N.Y.

The agency said it discovered the safety violations during an inspection in May, as part of OSHA's Site-Specific Targeting Program.

OSHA said it observed 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 alleged hazards, which resulted in 11 citations for serious violations, 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.

OSHA noted that its inspection identified three hazards that were similar to those cited at Tyson facilities in Hutchinson, Kan., Concordia, Mo., and Dakota City, Neb. The alleged hazards involved failing to: document that refrigeration equipment complied with generally accepted good engineering practices; guard floor holes; and maintain a sufficient workspace in front of electrical equipment, according to the agency. They resulted in three citations for repeat violations.

"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."

A spokesman for Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Foods said the company is reviewing the citations and likely will contest OSHA's proposed penalties.

"Workplace safety is a cultural value at our company," Tyson spokesman Worth Sparkman said in an email. "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."

OSHA's Site-Specific Targeting Program focuses on high-hazard workplaces with the highest rates of injuries and illnesses.

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