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Missouri meat processor fined again for exposing workers to CO2

LONE JACK, Mo. – A western-Missouri meat processor faces fines again after federal inspectors found that employees has been exposed to high levels of carbon dioxide.

The processor, Republic Foods in Lone Jack, has been cited seven times by inspectors over the last three years for endangering workers, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Federal investigators allege that, despite knowing hazardous levels of carbon dioxide existed, Republic Foods did not put an employee monitoring program in place or implement effective engineering controls to limit workers’ exposure to the dangers. OSHA measurements showed some parts of the site had nearly double the permissible level of carbon-dioxide exposure.

Dry ice used to keep meat at safe temperatures emits the carbon dioxide gas. Excessive exposure to carbon dioxide can cause headache, dizziness, breathing difficulty, tremors, confusion, and potentially, death. Long-term health effects may surface months or years later.

“Exposing workers to high levels of carbon dioxide can cause serious illnesses and even death,” explained OSHA Area Director Karena Lorek in Kansas City, Missouri. “Republic Foods failed to increase employee monitoring or change engineering controls to reduce the exposure.”

ZMDR LLC, which operates the processor, faces nearly $600,000 in fines from the latest exposure. OSHA says the processor has had 35 violations in five previous inspections from its 2020 opening through May 2022.

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