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Poultry Processor Faces Charges after Death at Plant

18 March 2013

US - A Mississippi poultry processor has been charged with 43 health and safety violations following the death of a worker, who slipped and fell into an unguarded screw conveyor while cleaning the conveyor at the company's Moselle plant.

The US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration initiated the inspection at Southern Hens Inc, in September last year, in response to the death.

The company is now facing fines of $160,000.

The 37 serious safety and health violations cited involve failing to establish an audiometric testing programme; protect propane tanks from vehicular traffic; provide personal protective equipment for employees; conduct monthly inspections of self-contained breathing apparatuses; evaluate hazards in the workplace to determine if any spaces were permit required confined spaces; identify mechanical hazards in the offal pits prior to employees entering; provide training for employees entering offal pits; develop energy control procedures for augers, chillers, scalders, cookers and dumpers; and provide lockout/tagout training of energy sources to all affected workers.

Other violations include obstructing exit routes, not having exit signs visible, a lack of machine guarding on several pieces of equipment and exposing workers to shock, struck-by, burn, crushing, tripping, falling, slipping and amputation hazards. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Six other-than-serious safety and health violations include failing to post the approved floor load capacity for the parts supply area above the maintenance office; post not-an-exit sign in the evisceration room and steam cook area; have cover plates on electrical boxes; allow a metal duplex receptacle and flexible cord to be used instead of permanent wiring; and not labeling containers of chlorinated sanitizer and refrigeration oil. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

"Employers cannot allow workers to be exposed to unguarded equipment or other workplace hazards," said Clyde Payne, OSHA's area director in Jackson, Mississippi.

"It is imperative that management take immediate action to eliminate the hazards identified in this inspection before another worker is injured or killed."

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