Tyson Foods Disputes Report That Language Barrier Caused Leak

by Kelly P. Kissel, The Associated Press  on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012 3:25 pm  

Tyson Foods Inc. headquarters in Springdale.

Acidic solutions of antimicrobial agents are used throughout the food industry to prevent or retard spoilage. According to the CDC report, Tyson Foods normally stores the acidic solution that reacted with the bleach in larger containers at its Springdale plant, but a sample drum had been inadvertently left in the area where the bleach was kept.

The CDC noted that while more than two-thirds of the plant's workers spoke Spanish as their primary language and 12 percent primarily spoke Marshallese, a language spoken in the Marshall Islands, material safety data sheets are written in English at a college reading level.

"To help overcome language and literacy obstacles, employers should actively engage workers in hands-on training," the CDC said, citing a 1992 study that explored safety education for workers with limited English skills. It also supports the use of symbols and simple text to highlight chemical hazards.

Mickelson said the company paid a $2,500 fine to settle a citation filed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, retrained workers and re-evaluated the plant's emergency response plan.

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