The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Hi Plains Feed LLC, of Garden City, Kan., for 24 alleged serious violations of process safety management for hazards found with this livestock feed manufacturer’s anhydrous ammonia system. Proposed penalties total $48,500.

"Our inspection identified numerous hazards that must be addressed," said Charles Adkins, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. "OSHA's process safety management standard is stringent and comprehensive because a leak could have catastrophic consequences. It is imperative that employers take the necessary steps to eliminate hazards and provide a safe working environment for all of their employees."

OSHA initiated an investigation of Hi Plains Feed in February under its site-specific targeting program. Serious violations cited include a lack of employee participation in and training of system operators; failure to compile process safety information and to conduct process hazard analyses; lack of written operating procedures for the ammonia process; failure to evaluate contractor safety performance and to conduct a pre-startup review after a significant facility modification; as well as a failure to manage changes and mechanical integrity of process equipment, to perform anhydrous ammonia release incident investigations, to have an adequate facility emergency plan and to have compliance certification of the program.

Other serious violations include failure to maintain floors in a clean and dry condition; fall hazards due to an unguarded pit opening and lack of aerial lift training; failure to have at least two suitable gas masks available and accessible; an inadequate respirator program; lack of developed confined space procedures; and grinding wheel, compressed air and electrical shock hazards. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which an employer knew or should have known.

Hi Plains Feed has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Wichita or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.