Last week, the UFCW submitted comments about a recent EPA action against 23 Tyson plants that use hazardous chemicals. The EPA recently fined Tyson close to $4 million and required the company to take extra steps to improve their ammonia refrigeration safety programs.
While the EPA’s action is a step in the right direction, the comments pointed out that the settlement agreement failed to include the people who are closest to the problem – the workers who operate and maintain the refrigeration systems.
UFCW members work in almost 900 different facilities across the country that use anhydrous ammonia for refrigeration. Although these refrigeration systems are covered by very strict environmental and safety standards, many of them fail to comply with these standards. The UFCW Occupational Safety & Health Office has an educational program available for any interested Locals to help determine if plants are in compliance and to help develop an action plan to protect members.
The UFCW Occupational Safety and Health Office will continue to fight for workers and their representatives to be included in the process of improving and evaluating Tyson’s ammonia safety program.