Ammonia Leak Leads to $95k Citation for Florida Farm - Worksite Medical

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Worker required medical treatment after ammonia leak

 

On June 3, OSHA cited a Bell Grande, Fl. farm over $95,000.

An employee required medical treatment after an anhydrous ammonia leak in the farm’s packaging house exposed workers to the toxic chemical.

The incident led to an OSHA inspection in November 2018.

Citations included:

  • Failure to develop procedures for notifying employees of emergencies and evacuation
  • Failure to create a written emergency response plan
  • Failure to provide safety and health training to employees operating ammonia refrigeration systems
  • Failure to ensure that employees required to respond to ammonia releases were provided a full-face respirator fit test.

 

What is anhydrous ammonia?

 

Commonly used as an agricultural fertilizer and industrial refrigerant, this toxic, colorless gas emits pungent, suffocating fumes.

If handled improperly, anhydrous ammonia vapors create immediate, potentially life-threatening health problems.

 

Related Article: Fined by OSHA? Here’s what to do next

 

When released into the air, it rapidly expands into a cloud of dense gas. The ammonia vapors initially hug the ground, making the chance of human exposure much higher than with most other gases.

Symptoms of anhydrous ammonia exposure include:

  • Eye, nose, and throat irritation;
  • respiratory difficulty and pain;
  • pulmonary edema;
  • and, burning and blistering.

At high concentrations, anhydrous ammonia can be fatal.

 

The aftermath

 

“This incident reveals the harm that can result when chemical facilities fail to comply with worker safety regulations,” said OSHA Fort Lauderdale Area Director Condell Eastmond.

“Employers are required to conduct a process hazard analysis to review what could go wrong, and what safeguards must be used to prevent releases of hazardous chemicals.”

This marks the second time in four years that OSHA cited the farm.

In 2015, it paid $8,100 in fines for violating machine safety regulations.

 

Related Article: Are you forgetting this key part to the respirator standard?

 

According to the farm’s director of corporate communications and family relations, no employees were injured at the time of the incident.

One worker required on-site treatment, then was taken to the hospital for further observation and subsequently released.

The director went on to say that, since 2015, the company improved several safety processes and procedures, expanded upon training and retraining, and refined its emergency action plan.

Currently, the company faces $95,472 in proposed penalties. It has 15 business days, from receipt of the citation, to comply or to contest the findings.

 

Are you prepared for an OSHA inspection?

 

Worksites with toxic chemicals must prioritize employee training and personal protective gear.

Create the right health and medical surveillance testing plan with Worksite Medical.

Do everything your way, on your terms, with on-site services and consultation.

We perform respirator fit testing, blood work, audiometic exams, physicals, and anything other medical testing that OSHA requires.

Check out our resources page to see what you need, or try our OSHA Medical Testing Wizard, and let us help you create the right plan for your team.

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