oshaUSA: The US OSHA has this week announced proposed fines totalling over $300,000 after ammonia refrigerant releases at two US food manufacturers.

In separate cases, Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation, the USA’s largest chicken processor, faces a penalty of $122,500, while one of the nation’s oldest chocolate companies, Russell Stover Candies, faces fines of $193,000.

Federal inspectors found that Pilgrim’s Pride failed to use proper safety procedures that allowed a release of 79lb of anhydrous ammonia from its refrigeration system and endangered workers at its Waco facility on September 28, 2015.

The US Department of Labour’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation for two repeat and two serious violations under its process safety management standards.

OSHA issued the two repeat citations to Pilgrim’s for failing to implement proper standard operating procedures with accurate information on safety systems and how they worked. The OSHA said that the company’s process hazard analysis failed to address issues in the plant. Inspectors also found the company’s inspections and equipment testing were not completed as scheduled or documented as required. The agency cited Pilgrim’s for the same or similar violations at its plants in Nacogdoches in February 2015 and in De Queen, Arkansas, in July 2013.

The agency also issued serious citations for failing to use proper methods to prevent over-pressurisation and explosions in the system, and for placing the control and maintenance room facilities in the engine room for ammonia refrigeration.

Headquartered in Greeley, Colorado, Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation is described as the world’s second largest chicken producer, and the largest in the US.

OSHA investigations following the release of about 22lb of ammonia when an air-conditioning unit pipe failed at its facility in Kansas on September 23 last year, resulted in the company being cited the with three repeat, 14 serious and two other-than-serious safety violations. On March 31, OSHA proposed penalties of $193,600. The agency has also placed Russell Stover in its Severe Violator Enforcement Programme.