OSHA settles with Nebraska-based ConAgra Foods to protect workers from anhydrous ammonia

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Today’s post comes from guest author Jon Gelman from Jon Gelman, LLC – Attorney at Law in New Jersey. This settlement is an example of what can happen when OSHA visits one plant and the settlement is implemented throughout the company, or “corporate-wide.” According to the story, “The agreement is the result of an inspection conducted at the company’s American Falls, Idaho, facility, initiated under OSHA’s PSM Covered Chemical Facilities National Emphasis Program, established to reduce or eliminate the workplace hazards associated with the catastrophic release of highly hazardous chemicals.” So the benefit of the company’s implementation is that workers in a number of plants in a number of states will now be safer.

ConAgra Foods, Inc. dba Lamb Weston, Inc. has signed a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to protect workers at five of its facilities from the release of anhydrous ammonia from refrigeration systems.

The agreement protects workers at Idaho, Arkansas, Missouri and Ohio facilities of the Nebraska-based company. It requires ConAgra to implement controls to reduce hazards associated with release of ammonia from low pressures receivers.

“This agreement ensures that ConAgra will protect workers from releases of ammonia by enclosing older LPRs that were not already enclosed, and by providing other controls such as normal and emergency ventilation to prevent exposure,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “OSHA’s corporate-wide settlement agreements are highly effective tools for ensuring that companies take a systemic approach to addressing hazards that can injure or kill their workers.”

OSHA’s Process Safety Management standard requires employers to document that equipment that was designed to meet codes and standards no longer in general use is still safe to operate under OSHA standards. OSHA originally cited ConAgra for failing to determine whether these older LPRs were being operated safely.

Under the agreement, ConAgra will implement administrative and engineering controls at the covered LPRs to control hazards associated with the release of ammonia. This includes building enclosures around equipment that is not already enclosed. Each enclosure must include normal and emergency ventilation that meets specified requirements, automatic switches for both normal and emergency ventilation and ammonia detection alarms. Egress doors for the enclosures will be required to include panic hardware and to swing in the direction of egress.

The agreement is the result of an inspection conducted at the company’s American Falls, Idaho, facility, initiated under OSHA’s PSM Covered Chemical Facilities National Emphasis Program, established to reduce or eliminate the workplace hazards associated with the catastrophic release of highly hazardous chemicals.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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