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Ammonia release at Coors brewery endangers workers (1/7)

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited MillerCoors LLC of Golden, Colo., with 10 alleged serious violations of OSHA standards following the July 2010 release in excess of 2000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia at its Golden brewery. Proposed fines total $63,500.

According to an OSHA press release, an investigation found that two employees working on the ammonia system narrowly escaped serious injury when an uncontrolled release occurred during maintenance operations. Anhydrous ammonia is severely corrosive to skin, eyes and the respiratory system.

"Employers must be diligent in ensuring that employees and the public are not unwittingly exposed to serious hazards caused by inadequate maintenance of systems controlling highly hazardous chemicals," said John Healy, OSHA's area office director in Englewood, Colo. "There is no acceptable reason for any employer to require employees to work around such a dangerous chemical without first ensuring they can do so without compromising their safety and health."

The serious citations address failing to follow accepted preventive maintenance procedures required under OSHA's process safety management standard, failing to develop and implement proper lockout/tagout procedures for energy sources, and deficiencies in the emergency eyewash and respirator programs. An OSHA violation is serious when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

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