US Poultry Processor Facing Fines Over Unsafe Working Environment

US - Workers cutting chicken fat, bone and cartilage eight hours a day at a Delaware poultry plant are suffering musculoskeletal injuries caused by their jobs, an inspection by the US Department of Labour's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found.
calendar icon 24 June 2015
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Following the inspection at Allen Harim Foods' Harbeson plant, OSHA cited the company for exposing employees on the debone line to musculoskeletal disorder hazards.

The agency determined that workers performed prolonged, repetitive and forceful tasks without controls in place to prevent injuries.

"Musculoskeletal injuries caused by these hazards in poultry plants are too common," said Assistant Secretary of Labour for Occupational Safety and Health, Dr David Michaels.

"These types of injuries can be prevented by implementing appropriate engineering and administrative controls in the workplace, and when they occur, they must be treated early with appropriate medical care to prevent the illness from progressing."

In addition to the serious citation for the company's failure to address the musculoskeletal disorder hazards, OSHA issued serious citations for failing to designate emergency exits properly and to ensure employees received training related to machinery that could unexpectedly start up during service and maintenance.

OSHA cited Allen Harim Foods for a total of nine violations. Proposed penalties total $38,000.

"The combination of musculoskeletal disorder hazards, lack of proper medical treatment for musculoskeletal disorders and underreporting of injuries at this plant must be addressed by the company," said Erin Patterson, director of OSHA's Wilmington office. "Workers should not have to work in pain, especially when these injuries are preventable."

Headquartered in Seaford, Allen Harim Foods has a total of 1,600 employees, with 960 workers at the Harbeson plant. In addition to the Harbeson facility, the company operates a poultry-processing plant in Cordova, Maryland; breeding operations in Liberty, North Carolina; and hatcheries and a feed mill in Dagsboro and Seaford.

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

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