Seaboard Foods LLC has been accused of exposing workers to a corrosive chemical at its pork-processing plant in Guymon, Oklahoma. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed penalties totaling $51,000 for safety violations found at the facility.

In total, seven serious citations were issued relating to the process safety management of anhydrous ammonia refrigeration systems used in the production process.

The violations include failing to:

  • provide written operating procedures addressing safety systems and function;
  • develop and implement safe work practices to control hazards during operations;
  • train workers involved with operating procedures involving the anhydrous ammonia process; and
  • inspect and test process equipment to maintain its mechanical integrity.

"The safety of a worker's skin, eyes and lungs should never be taken lightly," commented David Bates, OSHA's area director in Oklahoma City. "Anhydrous ammonia is corrosive and if it's not properly controlled it puts workers at risk. Employers who deal with highly hazardous chemicals like these have a responsibility to implement effective process safety management programs, because the release of toxic, reactive or flammable liquids and gases can be catastrophic."

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

The facility was inspected as part of OSHA's National Emphasis Program on chemicals, focusing on the agency's Process Safety Management standards which contain specific requirements for preventing or minimizing the consequences of catastrophic releases of highly hazardous chemicals.