June 2, 2016

OSHA fines potato processor $273,000 for safety violations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found an Idaho potato processor failed to safeguard employees and was unprepared to respond to a potentially lethal release of 1,300 lbs. of anhydrous ammonia on Dec. 1, 2015.

OSHA has issued Dickinson Frozen Foods a $273,000 fine. The company received 19 serious and two willful citations following the hazardous release.

OSHA reported numerous violations during its inspection, including:

  • The facility failed to maintain a “process safety management plan” that spells out a framework for any use, storage, handling or movement of highly hazardous chemicals.
  • Employees exposed to liquid ammonia without chemical protective clothing.
  • Employees entered a potentially life-threatening atmosphere without self-contained breathing apparatus.
  • Employees were not medically evaluated or fit tested to wear respirators.
  • Employees untrained on the facility’s emergency response plan when they were hired and when they changed positions.
  • Employees responded to an emergency without proper emergency response training.
  • The employer did not evaluate respiratory hazards during the ammonia leak response.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, David Kearns or contest the finding before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by staff from OSHA’s Boise Area Office.