Pinnacle Foods Group fines after OSHA inspection

Pinnacle Foods Group has had fines amounting to $156,700 which was decided by the US Department of Labour’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The firm, based in New Jersey, has been cited for 27 serious health and safety violations including exposing employees to breathing in ammonia at the site in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

OSHA started inspecting on 12 December 2011 and discovered that the company had not followed the OSHA’s process safety management regulations properly.

500 people are currently employed processing fresh and frozen seafood for Pinnacle Foods Group at Fayetteville.

Carlos Reynolds, the area director for OSHA in Little Rock, said: “This company has seriously jeopardised the safety and health of its employees.

“Following OSHA’s standards can prevent serious injuries and illnesses on the job, and employers are responsible for compliance”.

There had been some serious citations including a $7000 fine for not highlighting hazards of a abandoned piping, which ended with a contractor drilling a hole in the piping and dealing with uncontrolled release of anhydrous ammonia in December 2011.

The $7000 fine was suggested since the process hazard analysis (PHA) for the ammonia refrigeration system in the South Engine room last happened in 2005 and had not been revalidated every five years as of 28 February 2012.

According to the citation, the employees were unable to open an exit route door from the inside at all times without keys, tools, or special knowledge resulting in a proposed $5,500 fine.

A serious violation refers to the occasion where death or serious harm could potentially be possible from a hazard the employer knew or should have known.

A spokesperson for Pinnacle Foods Group said: “Pinnacle Foods is dedicated to the safety of our employees and producing safe, high-quality products for our customers.

“We are cooperating with OSHA authorities, and as this is an ongoing investigation, we cannot provide further information at this time”.

Pinnacle Foods have a time period of 15 working days to comply with the proposed penalties, request a meeting with OSHA officials or contest the fines.

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