An investigation into occupational safety and health from the deaths of six employees at a poultry processing plant in Georgia has resulted in citations for 59 violations and proposed fines totaling $ 1 million for four companies.
On January 28, a malfunctioning freezer at the Gainesville plant released colorless, odorless liquid nitrogen, which displaces oxygen in a room where several workers had just begun their shift, according to an OSHA statement released on Friday.
Three of the facility's maintenance workers entered the freezer room without precaution. after never being trained in the deadly effects of nitrogen exposure – and overcome immediately. Other workers entered the room and were also overcome.
The three maintenance workers and two other workers died immediately; a sixth died on the way to the hospital. At least a dozen injured workers needed hospital care, according to OSHA.
OSHA found that several companies were responsible for the
"failure to implement some of the safety procedures necessary to prevent nitrogen leakage or to equip workers who responded to it with the knowledge and equipment that could have saved their life ", to the statement.
The companies listed are: Foundation Food Group Inc. in Gainesville; Messer LLC in Bridgewater, New Jersey; Packers Sanitation Services Inc. Ltd. in Kiel, Wisconsin; and FS Group Inc. of Albertville, Alabama.
The companies, which face possible combined fines totaling $ 998,637, could not be immediately reached for comment.
U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said in the statement that the incident was "completely avoidable."