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July 26, 2021: Foundation Food Group Fined $1 Million for Nitrogen Leak that Killed Six Employees

On January 28, 2021, authorities received reports of a nitrogen leak at a frozen chicken processing plant in Gainesville, GA. That incident resulted in the death of six employees and injured a dozen more. A freezer that uses supercooled nitrogen as a coolant failed, causing the leak.

When liquid nitrogen gas is released in a confined space, it can rapidly displace oxygen in the air and lungs. This can result in unconsciousness and lethal asphyxiation.

OSHA determined Foundation Food Group failed to implement safety protocols that would prevent leaks. In addition, the agency found that workers were not educated on the dangers of nitrogen. They also did not have access to life saving equipment or the training necessary to render aid.

The U.S. Labor Department said it has issued a total of 59 citations and a $1 million fine against Foundation Food Group. FFG runs the Gainesville plant, along with two other associated companies. Messer LLC, a nitrogen gas company, and FS Group Inc, a food processing equipment maker. Labor Secretary, Marty Walsh, said “Make no mistake, this was an entirely preventable tragedy.”

After six worker deaths at Georgia chicken plant, U.S. issues $1 million in fines

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