On Jan. 9, OSHA began an inspection of the facility as part of its Site-Specific Targeting Program, which targets the nation's most hazardous workplaces. The sites are chosen based on high numbers of injuries and illnesses.
The agency found a number of violations while inspecting the plant, which included wet and dirty floors and obstructed and inadequately illuminated exits and exit routes. One of the exits was next to a high-hazard area, according to OSHA.
In addition, the agency found eight alleged repeat violations, which included:
- Unsafe stacking of material;
- Unguarded moving parts of machinery and equipment;
- Unguarded revolving drum ends;
- Exposed energized electrical wiring;
- No distinctive alarms for ammonia releases;
- No quick drench/eyewash stations in needed areas;
- Improper labeling and warnings for containers of hazardous chemicals; and
- Lack of effective hazard communication training.
As a result, OSHA is issuing $146,000 in proposed penalties for 46 serious violations, $55,000 for one willful violation, $137,500 for eight repeat violations and $1,000 for four other-than-serious violations.
"This employer was well aware of federal standards to protect employees from the hazards found during inspection, yet did not comply with them," said Charles E. Adkins, CIH, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City.
Tyson “Disappointed” In OSHA Claims
Libby Lawson, Tyson's vice president for public and community relations, said the company was “disappointed” by OSHA's findings and said company management will talk to OSHA officials about the proposed citations "in an effort to resolve the agency’s concerns.”
“In addition to comprehensive written safety procedures and policies, we have plant safety and ergonomic committees that include the involvement of production workers,” she said. “Regular safety inspections are also conducted by the plant staff and by members of our corporate health and safety team.”
Tyson has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.