Oklahoma workers in food industries where they are exposed to refrigeration systems that work with ammonia should be informed of the health risks they are facing on a daily basis. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently cited a meat-processing facility for seven serious safety violations that could lead to workplace injuries. The citations include four violations related to anhydrous ammonia management.
OSHA says anhydrous ammonia is an extremely dangerous chemical that is highly corrosive. Toxic, flammable gases and liquids are released and can cause catastrophic injuries and even death. Protecting the lungs, skin and eyes of workers should receive particular attention. Employers who disregard the existence of known hazards may have to face severe penalties, while also having to deal with financial losses due to the absence of injured workers.
A company owner is responsible for clearly written procedures for safety functions and systems, and should provide adequate staff training in the safe operating procedures related to working with anhydrous ammonia. Safe practices should be developed and maintained by strictly controlling operations. All equipment should be subjected to regular testing and inspections to maintain the integrity.
The company was also cited for violations relating to fall hazards, exposed electricity and the absence of protective guards. Oklahoma workers who have been suffering the consequences of an employer's disregard for worker safety may have had to cope with medical bills and lost wages following workplace injuries. Fortunately, most workers are eligible for workers' compensation benefits that will provide financial assistance during an injured worker's recovery period.
Source: myhighplains.com, "OSHA Proposes $51,000 Penalty for Violations by Seaboard Foods LLC in Guymon", Karl Wehmhoener, Feb. 11, 2015