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Anhydrous ammonia release can cause occupational injuries

Workers in a variety of industries in which large refrigeration plants are used are in danger of being exposed to anhydrous ammonia. Severe occupational injuries can be caused by this dangerous chemical as inhalation of can be fatal, and serious burns can result if it touches the skin. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration released its findings after an investigation into the accidental release of 79 pounds of anhydrous ammonia endangered the lives of workers at an out-of-state poultry plant last September.

The nation's largest poultry processor -- with its head office in Colorado -- had been investigated twice before, and the safety violations identified this time were reportedly the same as those for which citations were issued in 2013 and 2015 at the company's plants in two other states. The repeat violations included the failure to ensure that accurate information is available on safety systems and that operating procedures are carried out safely. Furthermore, equipment testing and hazard evaluations were not done or recorded.

Other industries in which workers are exposed to anhydrous ammonia include fish- and meat-processing plants, breweries and wineries, dairy plants, ice cream plants and facilities where juices and soft drinks are manufactured. Any facilities at which refrigeration plants run on 10,000 pounds or more of ammonia must comply with OSHA's related safety management standard. OSHA said that this company's noncompliance with safety regulations led to the release of the potentially lethal chemical.

Colorado workers who have suffered occupational injuries as the result of exposure to dangerous chemicals may suffer long-term consequences. Claims for benefits may be filed with the workers' compensation insurance system. However, it may be harder to prove that an occupational disease is work-related, compared to visible injuries such as burns. For this reason, many injured workers choose to utilize the help of an experienced workers' compensation attorney to pursue the maximum amount of compensation for them.

Source: safety.blr.com, "OSHA: Poultry plant cited in dangerous chemical release", April 19, 2016

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