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An administrative law judge with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission on Friday vacated in part and affirmed in part five serious violations against a poultry processing plant over its process safety management practices.
In January 2017, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted a process safety management inspection of a Sanderson Farms Inc. poultry processing facility in Waco, Texas, pursuant to OSHA’s National Emphasis Program, resulting in the issuance of five serious violations, according to documents in Secretary of Labor v. Sanderson Farms Inc.
Three citations that alleged the facility had in place improper ventilation, inadequate engineering facilities and improper employee access for processes pertaining to refrigeration of chicken using ammonia were vacated, according to the 28-page ruling. The administrative law judge wrote in part that the Secretary of Labor failed to prove that improper ventilation was in place and that process safety management addresses processed, not facilities, according to the document.
Two citations were affirmed, one only in part, but both pertaining to the company’s lack of written procedures and testing controls within process safety management requirements. “The Court also does not credit Sanderson Farms with a good faith reduction since it had knowledge that it did not have any written procedures for inspecting and testing its process equipment,” the ruling states, issuing a $9,054 civil penalty.
Officials at Laurel, Mississippi-based Sanderson Farms could not immediately be reached for comment.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s efforts to improve workplace safety in the meat and poultry industry face challenges because employees may be reluctant to report concerns for fear of retaliation, according to a government study.