The U.S. Labor Department said Foundation Food Group, Packers Sanitation Services Ltd. and FS Group Inc. are all appealing fines which were the result of a liquid nitrogen leak that suffocated six workers, Associated Press reported. The fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) totaled nearly $1 million.
The incident occurred in January at a Foundation Food Group poultry processing plant in Gainesville, Ga. when a new freezing line released liquid nitrogen vapor.
Three workers died attempting to repair the freezer after nitrogen filled the room. Three other employees died trying to rescue the initial three. Investigations revealed obstructions and blocked exits prevented workers from escaping.
Foundation Food Group owns the plant, Packers Sanitation Services Ltd. provided cleaning services and FS Group Inc. assisted in building the failed freezer line.
Foundation Food Group received 26 violations and a proposed fine of $595,474, Packers Sanitation Services Ltd. was handed 19 violations and a proposed fine of $286.720 and FS Group Inc. was cited for eight violations and a proposed fine of $42,325.
A fourth company involved, the American branch of a German company Messer, reached an informal settlement with OSHA on August 13. Messer made the freezer system. Its violations and proposed fine were six and $74,118.
The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission will make decisions on the appealed citations.