OSHA cites Tyson plant in NY

by Bryan Salvage
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BUFFALO, NY – A Tyson Foods Inc. plant in Buffalo, NY was cited for repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards following an inspection, the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported. The agency is proposing fines totaling $121,720.

The May 15 inspection was conducted under OSHA's Specific Targeting Program developed for "high-hazard workplaces with the highest rates of injuries and illnesses," according to OSHA. The inspection revealed mechanical, electrical and fall hazards, in addition to several deficiencies in the plant's process safety management program for its refrigeration system. OSHA said the hazards included failure to guard skylights and a roof hatchway, guard a press, provide safety-related work practices to prevent electric shock and arc flash burns, and provide workers with protective equipment when using energized equipment. OSHA said these findings resulted in 11 serious citations with $61,000 in fines.

The plant also received three citations with fines of $60,720 for repeat violations that were similar to problems cited at Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson's plants in Hutchinson, Kan., Concordia, Mo. and Dakota City, Neb., OSHA reported. Recurring hazards included failing to document that refrigeration equipment complied with generally accepted good engineering practices, guard floor holes and maintain a sufficient work space in front of electrical equipment.

Worth Sparkman, a Tyson Foods spokesman, said: "We are currently reviewing the citations and, given the nature and extent of the violations alleged, we are likely to contest OSHA’s findings. Workplace safety is a cultural value at our company. At all times, we expect the highest standards for the safety and health of our Team Members across all of Tyson Foods’ operations. Our efforts include safety policies and training, and the involvement of workers in our safety committees."

Tyson has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply with OSHA mandates, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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