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Advocates File Complaint To OSHA Against Gainesville Poultry Plant

A Hall County firefighter leaves following the Jan. 28 liquid nitrogen leak that killed six people at the Foundation Food Group poultry plant in Gainesville. GA Familias Unidas has filed an imminent danger complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on behalf of workers.
A Hall County firefighter leaves following the Jan. 28 liquid nitrogen leak that killed six people at the Foundation Food Group poultry plant in Gainesville. GA Familias Unidas has filed an imminent danger complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on behalf of workers.
Credit John Bazemore / Associated Press file
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A northeast Georgia workers’ rights group has filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration against the Foundation Food Group poultry plant, where six workers died due to a Jan. 28 nitrogen leak. 

Advocates say employees at the plant still fear going to work.

GA Familias Unidas filed an imminent danger complaint March 26 on behalf of workers.

Included in the complaint is a call for more unlocked doors at the plant to ensure safety as well as functioning alarms to alert workers to danger.

The day of the nitrogen leak, 130 employees were evacuated from the building.

“Workers continue to experience injuries and illnesses from this nitrogen leak including headaches, chest pain, anxiety, and trouble sleeping,” reads the complaint. 

Six weeks after the deadly nitrogen leak at the Gainesville plant, an ammonia leak happened on March 11. The complaint states that the second leak exacerbated symptoms from the first one.

According to the complaint, workers smelled ammonia at the plant before, but not as strong as the morning of the leak.

An OSHA spokesperson confirmed that the federal agency has received the complaint and will handle it in accordance with its complaint and referral processing policy.

“We will continue to assure healthful and safe working conditions in all workplaces, and will collaborate with employees, the community and the employer at this facility to ensure workers are protected,” the statement said.

The agency is still investigating both chemical leaks.

The imminent danger complaint also says that the Foundation Food Group has likely violated federal safety standards.

In a statement to WABE, Foundation Food Group says, “The safety of FFG’s associates remains a top priority, which includes maintaining safety programs and protocols and training associates in their native languages.

The plant, formerly known as Prime Pak Foods, has had several federal workplace violations over the past several years, including two employees who suffered amputations in 2017.