SEMINOLE, Okla. – Sigma Processed Meats Inc. was cited for 16 serious and three repeat violations by the US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration after an inspection that allegedly found workers were exposed to fall and other hazards at the company's processing plant in Seminole. OSHA is proposing penalties totaling $204,800.

The 2010 acquisition of Bar-S Foods by Sigma Alimentos formed the largest processed meat company by volume in North America.

An investigation by OSHA's Oklahoma City Area Office began June 1 at the company's East Goodhope Road plant after it received a complaint. Serious violations alleged include failing to provide: Guardrails as fall protection for employees working on elevated walking/working surfaces; an adequate emergency action plan; personal protective equipment, such as goggles or face shields; failing to train employees on the use of hazardous chemicals; plus failing to address hazards created by deficiencies in the company's process safety management system for anhydrous ammonia.

Repeat violations cited include failing to develop and implement a lockout/tagout program for isolation of energy sources plus failing to provide training for employees on the use of lockout/tagout devices.

Employing approximately 160 workers, the Sigma Processed Meats plant produces cold-cut meats, cheese, creams and frozen foods. OSHA has given Sigma 15 business days from receipt of citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Oklahoma City or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

“We are extremely concerned about the safety issues raised in the OSHA citations,” Helio Castano, vice president of administration, Bar-S Foods, told “The safety of our workers is a critical priority for us. We are currently reviewing the details of the citations and plan to respond to the issues raised by OSHA after we have had the opportunity to conduct a thorough internal investigation.”