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Ohio chicken processing plant exposes workers to multiple hazards, lacking safety measures (US Dept of Labor).

US Department of Labor finds Case Farms Processing continues to expose workers to multiple hazards at Ohio chicken processing plant

February 7, 2024

A chicken processing plant in Winesburg, Ohio, is facing penalties of $393,449 after the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found the facility to be in violation of safety regulations. Case Farms Processing Inc., which has a history of violations, was cited for three repeat, seven serious, and four other-than-serious violations.

Repeat Offender

Inspectors with OSHA opened a follow-up inspection at Case Farms Processing Inc. on August 7, 2023, under the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. During the inspection, machine guarding and trip-and-fall hazards were found in the facility’s live hang department, which were similar to violations cited in a previous case.

OSHA cited the company for not using required lockout/tagout procedures, failing to train workers in such procedures, lacking machine guarding to protect workers from contact with operating machine parts, and exposing workers to fall and electrical hazards.

Protecting Workers

Larry Johnson, OSHA Area Director in Columbus, Ohio, expressed concern for the safety of workers at Case Farms Processing. He stated, “Case Farms Processing continues to ignore federal safety regulations to protect workers on the job. Returning to a facility to find similar violations identified in previous inspections demonstrates a callous disregard for the safety of workers.”

Johnson emphasized that the processing plant exposes its workforce to life-altering injuries, particularly workers with limited English proficiency. He urged the company to come into compliance with safety regulations immediately.

A History of Violations

Since 1988, OSHA has cited Case Farms 70 times at its facilities in North Carolina and Ohio, resulting in approximately 450 violations. Many of these violations relate to machine guarding, lockout/tagout procedures, fall and electrical hazards, and processing safety management.

Case Farms, headquartered in Troutman, North Carolina, employs 3,500 workers nationwide and has 576 employees at the Winesburg, Ohio facility. The processing plant handles approximately 140,000 chickens daily.

Implementing Safety Measures

Employers in the poultry processing industry should prioritize the safety and well-being of their workers. Here are some practical tips for implementing safety measures in the workplace:

1. Machine Guarding

Ensure that all machines are properly guarded to prevent workers from coming into contact with moving parts. Conduct regular inspections to identify any potential hazards and address them promptly.

2. Lockout/Tagout Procedures

Implement lockout/tagout procedures to control hazardous energy during maintenance or repair work. Train workers on these procedures to prevent unexpected machine start-ups and protect them from electrical and other energy sources.

3. Fall Protection

Provide appropriate fall protection equipment, such as harnesses and guardrails, to prevent falls from elevated surfaces. Conduct thorough inspections of work areas to identify potential fall hazards and take necessary measures to mitigate them.

4. Training and Education

Ensure that all workers receive comprehensive training on workplace safety, including hazard recognition, proper equipment usage, and emergency procedures. Provide training materials in multiple languages to accommodate workers with limited English proficiency.

5. Regular Inspections

Conduct regular inspections of the workplace to identify any potential safety hazards. Encourage workers to report any concerns or unsafe conditions they observe and address them promptly.

6. Compliance with Regulations

Stay updated with the latest safety regulations and ensure compliance in the workplace. Regularly review and update safety policies and procedures to align with industry standards and best practices.

By prioritizing safety and implementing these measures, employers can create a safer work environment for their employees and reduce the risk of accidents and injuries.

For more information on OSHA and lockout/tagout procedures, visit the OSHA website.

Reference: US Department of Labor finds Case Farms Processing continues to expose workers to multiple hazards at Ohio chicken processing plant

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