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Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. facing nearly $100,000 fines

By Joe Whitworth , 13-Dec-2012
Last updated on 13-Dec-2012 at 10:16 GMT

Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. has been cited by the US Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for exposing workers to hazardous chemicals.

The firm’s Lufkin, Texas facility was cited by three and four serious violations following a June inspection as part of OSHA’s Process Safety Management Covered Chemical Facilities national emphasis program.

Citations for $99,000 include repeat and serious violations.

Repeat citations

The Greeley, Colorado-based company is a chicken processing and wholesale distribution firm, operating in 12 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

The repeat citations 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.

Similar violations were cited at the company's site in Live Oak, Florida, in April 2008 and at the plant in Russellville, Alabama, in September 2010.

Serious violations

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.

"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 company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply with the penalties, request a meeting with OSHA officials or contest the fines.

Earlier this year, Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. and OSHA reached a $50,000 settlement in relation to the termination of an employee who raised environmental complaints.

The settlement was in relation to water reclamation at a chicken processing plant after the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) found process and storm water containing chromium, lead and mercury being discharged into the environment.

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