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A Smithfield Packing Co. hog processing plant in Clinton, NC, is facing a fine of $251,250 for safety violations following the death of a worker at the factory in February.

The fines are for the death of the worker and for other problems found by inspectors from the NC Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

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Brandon Christopher Taylor, 26, of Clinton, died from exposure to hydrogen sulfide gas, said a report from the Department of Labor. He had been filling a tanker truck with sludge, a sewage byproduct, from overhead storage tanks.

Hydrogen sulfide, which smells of rotten eggs, is a poisonous, explosive gas that forms in sludge. Officials found Taylor unresponsive on Feb. 18 with his head in the tanker opening.

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The agency issued 17 fines, including: Three fines totaling $210,000 for Taylor’s death; each of the three is the maximum permitted penalty.

The inspectors said Smithfield did not provide respirators to protect the workers who handled the sludge.

Further, they said the company did not train the workers on how to detect hydrogen sulfide and did not teach the workers how to protect themselves from the dangerous gases that sludge produces: Hydrogen sulfide, methane, ammonia and sulfur dioxide.

Thirteen fines totaling $39,300 for other safety hazards, such as conditions that could lead to workers getting run over by the tanker trucks, falling from dangerous heights onto hard surfaces, getting splashed by dangerous, corrosive chemicals, and suffering unprotected exposure to other dangerous substances.

One fine of $1,950 was for not giving employees sufficient opportunities to use the restrooms.

The company fixed quite a few of the issues, the report said.

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