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The U.S. Department of Labor cited international poultry and pork producer Pilgrim's Pride Corp. following a federal workplace safety investigation into an ammonia leak in the company's processing plant in Canton, Ga.
The leak, which occurred Jan. 19, resulted in the evacuation of 50 workers and the hospitalization of two, according to an Aug. 1 news release. An additional worker was treated on site. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's investigation found that the incident could have been avoided if the employer ensured safety protocols were followed.
“The failures identified in this case are inexcusable,” OSHA Area Office Director Joshua Turner said in the release. “This incident should serve as a reminder to employers of their legal obligation to maintain a complete and up-to-date process safety management program and ensure workers are trained on the dangers of hazardous chemicals and the importance of following safety precautions.”
OSHA inspectors concluded the ammonia leak was caused in part by the uncontrolled temperature and pressure on an ammonia refrigeration system, the release reported. Ammonia reportedly spread through the air as both a liquid and a vapor, and it surrounded the plant's emergency exit doors.
Pilgrim's Pride has 15 days from its receipt of its citations to respond, according to the release. OSHA proposed $110,630 in penalties.