BRAINTREE, Mass. - The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited American Seafoods International LLC for 15 alleged violations of safety and health standards related to the refrigeration system at its New Bedford, Mass., processing facility. The seafood company faces a total of $279,000 in proposed fines, chiefly for deficiencies in its process safety management (PSM) program.

A PSM encompasses a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers must follow to proactively address hazards associated with processes and equipment that use large amounts of hazardous chemicals. In this case, the chemical was anhydrous ammonia in the Bedford plant’s refrigeration system. OSHA’s inspection found that the plant’s PSM program was incomplete, lacked operating procedures, and did not provide for adequate inspections of process equipment. These conditions resulted in the issuance of three willful citations with $195,000 in proposed fines.

The inspection identified other PSM hazards that resulted in 12 serious citations, with $84,000 in proposed fines. These conditions included failing to update process safety information, conduct an incident investigation of a January 2001 ammonia leak, certify or evaluate the PSM program every three years as required, establish and implement procedures to maintain changes in the process, and provide and document employee training.

Publication date: 08/23/2010