OSHA fines Pilgrim’s Pride $122,500 for violations at Texas plant

GREELEY — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced this week that it has fined Greeley-based Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. $122,500 for failure to use proper safety procedures that could have prevented the release of 79 pounds of anhydrous ammonia at a plant in Waco, Texas, last fall.

OSHA cited the chicken-producing giant for two repeat and two serious violations under its Process Safety Management Standards.

Anhydrous ammonia is a chemical that can cause serious burns to the skin and can be fatal when inhaled.

An official for Pilgrim’s Pride (Nasdaq: PPC) couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

“Had Pilgrim’s had the right processes in place, this ammonia release may have been prevented,” OSHA area director in Fort Worth, Texas, Jack Rector said in a release. “We will continue to monitor the company’s progress as they make much-needed improvements to equipment procedures and training to keep their workers safe.”

The two repeat citations had to do with Pilgrim’s “failing to implement proper standard operating procedures with accurate information on safety systems and how they worked.” Among the violations, OSHA found that the company’s inspections and equipment testing were not completed as scheduled or documented as required.

OSHA cited the company for the same or similar violations at plants in Nacogdoches, Texas, in February 2015 and in De Queen, Ark., in July 2013.

The two serious citations stemmed from Pilgrim’s “failure to use proper methods to prevent over-pressurization and explosions in the system, an for placing the control and maintenance room facilities in the engine room for ammonia refrigeration.”