OSHA cites meat processing plant for exposing workers to falls, other workplace hazards

SEMINOLE, Oklahoma – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Sigma Processed Meats Inc. for 16 serious and three repeat violations following an inspection that found workers were exposed to fall and other hazards at the company's processing plant in Seminole. Proposed penalties total $204,800.

OSHA's Oklahoma City Area Office began its investigation June 1 at the company's plant on East Goodhope Road after receiving a complaint. Serious violations include failing to provide guardrails as fall protection for employees working on elevated walking/working surfaces, provide an adequate emergency action plan, provide personal protective equipment such as goggles or face shields, train employees on the use of hazardous chemicals and address hazards created by deficiencies in the company's process safety management system for anhydrous ammonia. Anhydrous ammonia is used for the refrigeration system. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The repeat violations include failing to develop and implement a lockout/tagout program for isolation of energy sources as well as to provide training for employees on the use of lockout/tagout devices. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

"Failure to effectively implement OSHA's safety and health regulations to protect workers from potential hazards could lead to serious injury or death. OSHA will not tolerate such negligence," said David Bates, OSHA's area director in Oklahoma City.

Sigma Processed Meats employs about 160 workers at the Seminole plant, which produces cold cut meats, cheese, creams and frozen foods. The company has 15 business days from receipt of citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Oklahoma City or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline.

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.