Mar-Jac Poultry faces OSHA fines

by Bryan Salvage
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ATLANTA — Penalties totaling $379,800 have been proposed against Mar-Jac Poultry Inc. for alleged safety and health violations at its Gainesville, Ga., facility by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (O.S.H.A.).

The company has 15 days to comply, request an informal conference with the O.S.H.A. area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

According to an O.S.H.A. news release, the company is being cited with four willful violations with a proposed penalty of $252,000 for failing to update its hazard analysis in five-year intervals as required, to establish specific procedures to maintain the integrity of process equipment and to institute equipment and procedural changes for the ammonia refrigeration system in 2004, 2005 and 2008. O.S.H.A. further claims the company has failed to perform the required compliance audits for 2000, 2003 and 2007. O.S.H.A. defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

The plant is being cited with 37 serious safety and health violations for $127,800 in proposed penalties. Safety hazards include: a lack of proper machine guarding, uncovered floor holes, obstructed emergency exit routes, a lockout/tagout device not being affixed to electrical disconnect and portable fire extinguishers not being readily available.

Alleged health violations include failing to establish a maintenance program to ensure the reliability of the ammonia refrigeration system, implement noise controls and develop an emergency response plan for employees responding to ammonia emergencies. Two other-than-serious violations were also found, but no penalty was assessed.

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