FORT WORTH, Texas – Five Star Custom Foods Ltd. and subcontractor Packers Sanitation Services Inc. received citations for health and safety violations, according to the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Penalties total $134,000 collectively.

OSHA officials began investigating the companies on June 12 under the agency's national emphasis program on process safety management, known as PSM, for covered chemical facilities. The agency's investigators found that employees, while conducting operations in the facility's refrigeration system, were exposed to the catastrophic release of toxic and corrosive chemicals.

Five Star Custom Foods received 14 serious violations for failing to ensure that equipment related to the process complied with recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices; recommendations in the process hazard analysis were processed; standard operating procedures were annually certified; an ammonia detector system was provided; contract employees were informed of the potential of fire and/or toxic release hazards; and compliance audits were conducted at least every three years, OSHA said.

OSHA cited the company for an additional 11 safety violations for failing to develop machine-specific lockout/tagout procedures for the control of hazardous energy; maintain work areas free of slip, trip and fall hazards; keep exit areas unobstructed; and to address electrical wiring deficiencies.

OSHA cited Packers Sanitation Services, a janitorial services company, with two serious safety violations for failure to train employees to work with hazardous chemicals and not providing safety data sheets.

“Exposing employees to highly hazardous chemicals, such as anhydrous ammonia, can be fatal,” said Jack Rector, the agency's area director in Fort Worth. “OSHA's standards must be followed to prevent accidents and illnesses.”