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Pinnacle Foods cited for 27 violations totalling more than $150,000

By Joe Whitworth , 11-Jun-2012

Pinnacle Foods Group has had fines totalling US$156,700 (€124,583) proposed by the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

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

OSHA began an inspection on 12 December 2011 and investigators found that Pinnacle Foods Group failed to follow OSHA's process safety management regulations.

The site employs about 500 people processing fresh and frozen seafood.

List of offences

Serious proposed citations include a $7000 fine for not addressing the hazards of abandoned piping, resulting in a contractor drilling a hole in the piping and an uncontrolled release of anhydrous ammonia in December last year.

A $7000 fine was proposed as the process hazard analysis (PHA) for the ammonia refrigeration system in the South Engine room was last conducted in 2005 and was not revalidated every five years as of 28 February 2012.

The citation adds that employees were not able 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 is 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.

‘Seriously jeopardized safety and health’

Carlos Reynolds, OSHA's area director in Little Rock, said: "This company has seriously jeopardized 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."

A Pinnacle Foods spokesperson told FoodProductionDaily.com: “Pinnacle Foods is dedicated to the safety of our employees and producing safe, high-quality products for our consumers.

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

Pinnacle Foods has 15 business days to comply with the proposed penalties, request a meeting with OSHA officials or contest the fines.

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