House of Raeford Responds to Newspaper Allegations; Fifth Arrest

US - Employees and their safety are a continuous core value, the company says in a press release in response to allegations of poor workplace safety practices and hiring programmes. A fifth person has been arrested in an on-going federal investigation.
calendar icon 19 June 2008
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House of Raeford Farms Inc. is further investigating allegations by The Charlotte Observer critical of its workplace safety practices and hiring programmes. In response to The Observer’s alleged findings, House of Raeford issued the following statement:

House of Raeford recognises the value of all its employees and is dedicated to providing them with a safe and rewarding place to work. Maintaining and improving the quality and safety of its employees’ workplace is a continuous priority.

In response to the article in The Charlotte Observer, House of Raeford has investigated allegations presented to it earlier by the newspaper. Over the past year, it provided them with significant access to its operations and information on its safety and employee welfare programmes and policies. It responded to allegations presented by the newspaper through background responses as specific as possible while still protecting employee confidentiality. It says it is inappropriate for the company to discuss current or former employees’ medical and employment history in a public forum.

House of Raeford says the article does not provide an accurate portrayal of the programmes, policies and practices of the company or the poultry industry. It is disappointed that the newspaper chose to highlight allegations of a small number of former employees, many of whose cases it identified as factually incomplete or inaccurate.

House of Raeford is a family-owned operation founded in the 1940s that has a deeply rooted tradition of valuing the contributions made by each employee. While it has grown rapidly over the past decade, expanding the workforce to over 5,000 employees, the company has maintained concern for its employees’ welfare as a core value of the company. It has supported the communities where its employees live and work with donations to schools, churches and other charitable organizations.

Employees have rewarded House of Raeford with their loyalty and dedication. In an industry that experiences a high turnover rate, many of the employees have worked with the company for over 20 years, some even over 30 years. It also has third- and fourth-generation employees whose parents and grandparents themselves have worked for the company. There are numerous examples of employees who started as hourly production workers and are now managers and supervisors, demonstrating the career advancement opportunities available for each individual hired.

House of Raeford is proactive in looking for ways to improve our safety programs. For example, it participates in the newly-formed partnership with the poultry industry and the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to improve performance even more. This alliance will focus on worker safety and machinery hazards, and providing solutions to reduce worksite injuries. A similar alliance with OSHA was held a few years ago with a focus on ergonomics.

The company has also worked with OSHA through voluntary inspection programs where their officials visit and review safety in the plants. It uses such visits and inspections as a means to then continuously improve workplace safety programs. It is company policy that recordkeeping of injuries is done in accordance with OSHA guidelines and legal requirements for recording medical incidents and attention given to employees.

It has seen a decrease in the rate at which injuries and illnesses occur among its workers. As of 2007, the rate of injuries per 100 full-time workers is less than the average rate for the entire food manufacturing sector. Over the past seven years, the lost-time accident rate has been reduced by half, a reflection of management’s constant focus on improving safety.

When workplace injuries do occur, the company uses local, independent doctors in the communities where the operations are located to treat employee injuries. It is these doctors who develop the medical treatment plan for employees, including when the employee is able to return back to work and any limitations of the work they can perform. The company follows the plans prescribed by these doctors to help employees return to good health. Furthermore, workplace injuries are covered by mandatory state workers compensation insurance programs administered by the state where it operates.

House of Raeford is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not believe in discriminating against any group of people. It is proud of the diversity of its workforce and it is assertive in hiring from the pool of available applicants in local communities who have legal documentation for employment. There are policies and programs in place that follow federal requirements for verifying the eligibility of job applicants. Once hired, all employees pay state, federal, Medicare and social security taxes as these are automatically deducted from each employee’s paycheck and reported to the required government agencies.

House of Raeford concluded the press release saying that its commitment to the safety and general well-being of employees remains as strong as ever – as well as its commitment to being good citizens of its communities and a valued supplier to its customers. It remains committed to maintaining and improving the quality and safety of its employees’ workplace."

Fifth supervisor arrested

In a more recent development, Greenville Online reported on Wednesday that federal agents have now arrested five supervisors at the company's poultry plant in Greenville, South Carolina in a continuing investigation into alleged immigration violations.

View the Greenville Online story by clicking here.

Further Reading

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