OSHA cites Pilgrim’s Pride with repeat and serious violations

December 27, 2012
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LUFKIN, Texas — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration has cited Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. in Lufkin with three repeat and four serious violations following a June inspection as part of the agency’s Process Safety Management Covered Chemical Facilities national emphasis program. Proposed penalties total $99,000.

“Process safety management prevents the unexpected release of toxic, reactive or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals,” said David Doucet, director of OSHA’s Houston North office. “Exposure to highly hazardous chemicals can be fatal. OSHA will not tolerate a company’s failure to provide a safe and healthful working environment.”

The repeat citations issued for the process safety management standard violations include failing to inspect and test process equipment consistent with applicable manufacturers’ recommendations and good engineering practices, ensure that process equipment complies with recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices, and properly label containers holding hazard chemicals. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Similar violations were cited at the company’s work site in Live Oak, Fla., in April 2008 and at the work site in Russellville, Ala., in September 2010.

Serious violations include failing to correct deficiencies in process equipment, ensure that process safety information pertaining to equipment includes design codes and standards and establish and implement written procedures to manage changes of the process. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The Greeley, Colo.-based Pilgrim’s Pride, a chicken processing and wholesale distribution company, operates in 12 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. About 33,000 workers are employed companywide with about 1,400 at the Lufkin facility.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA Houston North area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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