OSHA Fines Tyson Foods Poultry Processor Disputes Safety Violations

By Barker-Benfield, Simon | The Florida Times Union, January 12, 1999 | Go to article overview

OSHA Fines Tyson Foods Poultry Processor Disputes Safety Violations


Barker-Benfield, Simon, The Florida Times Union


Tyson Foods Inc. said yesterday it will appeal allegations by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration that the company's poultry processing plant on the Westside is ignoring worker safety and should be fined $101,500.

"Our folks have taken great offense to the characterizations involved in these allegations," said Tyson spokesman Ed Nicholson.

OSHA last week cited the plant in four categories after a two-month examination last summer stemming from a complaint by an employee in March.

"We issue a willful citation when an employer has shown an intentional disregard of safety and health standards," James Borders, Jacksonville area director for OSHA, said in a prepared statement.

The biggest fine sought by OSHA is for $55,000 "for one willful violation to perform required testing of the ammonia refrigeration system."

At issue were 244 safety valves that should be replaced every five years, Tyson said. All but 20 had been replaced, said Mike Edmunds, Tyson's corporate safety director.

OSHA said the plant delayed tests on the ammonia system even though the company's management had sent a memo asking for a check after there had been a problem with a defective pressure safety valve.

"Overexposure to ammonia can lead to serious respiratory problems as well as caustic burns," Borders said. "OSHA will take strong action when employers refuse to protect their workers from substantial risk."

OSHA also said that Tyson committed "a repeat health violation for not installing eye washes and showers where needed," and proposed a $12,500 fine.

The company contends that the washing facilities drew no complaints when inspected less than a year earlier.

In another category, for which OSHA wants to impose $14,000 in fines, the agency said violations included "no standard railing on work platforms, open-sided floors or stairs, improperly installed outlet boxes and an absence of warnings labels for hazardous chemicals."

Tyson said that the proposed fines included one for $2,500 because a staircase was 1 1/2 inches too narrow, according to regulations. …

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