Poultry Company Fined over Safety

US – Murray's Chickens in the US is to be fined $67.000 for eight alleged violations of workplace safety and health standards at the company's South Fallsburg chicken processing plant in New York.
calendar icon 1 June 2012
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Proposed fines follow an inspection in November 2011 by the US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Albany Area Office.

OSHA found deficiencies in the facility's hazardous energy control, or "lockout/tagout" program, which is designed to prevent machinery from unintentionally starting up during maintenance.

These include a lack of energy control procedures and failing to train workers on the program's purpose and functions. Additionally, the company failed to adequately guard processing machinery against contact with workers and to provide workers with information and training on specific hazards involving disinfectants and other chemicals used in work areas.

These conditions resulted in citations for six serious violations. 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. The citations carry $32,600 in proposed fines.

Murray's Chickens' parent company, MB Consultants, which was the subject of teh OHSA charges, has also been issued a citation for one repeat violation because all injuries and illnesses were not properly recorded. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Similar violations were cited in November 2010. The citation carries a $33,000 fine.

"The absence of adequate machine guarding and hazardous energy control procedures exposes workers to the dangers of lacerations, amputations and crushing injuries, should they become caught in operating or unexpectedly activated machinery," said Kimberly Castillon, OSHA's area director in Albany. "Such conditions should be addressed and abated quickly and effectively."

Finally, two other-than-serious violations have been cited for failing to review illness and injury logs to ensure accuracy. 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. The citations carry carries a fine of $2,000.

"One means of preventing hazards such as these is developing and maintaining an effective illness and injury prevention program in which management and employees work together to identify and prevent hazardous conditions," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

MB Consultants has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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