News Release 98-385
Wednesday, September 16, 1998
Contact: Bill Wright (202) 219-8151
Deborah Zubaty (614) 469-5582
OHIO EGG PROCESSOR AGREES TO PAY $425,000 IN FINES; WILL IMPROVE SAFETY AND HEALTH
CONDITIONS AT ITS TWO FACILITIES
AgriGeneral Company, L.P., will pay a $425,000 penalty for safety
and health violations at its Croton, Ohio, egg processing and distribution
plant and take steps to improve safety and health conditions for both its
Ohio facilities, under an agreement announced today by the Occupational
Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
OSHA inspected the Croton facility, now operating as Buckeye Egg
Farm, following a referral from the Ohio Department of Health. As a
result of its investigation, OSHA cited the company on Aug. 18, 1997
for willful violations of the general duty clause and temporary labor camp
standards and serious violations of the bloodborne pathogens, confined
space, hazard communication and agricultural equipment standards.
Proposed penalties initially totaled $1,072,000; the settlement announced
today reduces that penalty to $425,000 and covers the company's Ohio
facilities at both Croton and Mount Victory.
"We are pleased that Buckeye Egg Farm has agreed to resolve this
matter," said Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman. "As a result of this
settlement, hundreds of employees will no longer face unhealthful and even
life-threatening living and working conditions. Key to the settlement is the
company's willingness to implement a viable safety and health program
to provide ongoing protection for its workers."
Buckeye Egg Farm employs 365 workers at its 7,000-acre Croton facility
(near Columbus), which produces, processes and distributes about 4.5
million eggs daily from almost 10 million chickens. The Mount Victory
facility, located west of Marion, Ohio, employs 100 workers overseeing
egg production by nearly 2 million chickens. (The Mount Victory plant
was not included in the original inspection).
The agreement settles citations issued against the company that included:
exposing temporary migrant workers to fire and electrical hazards and to
unsafe and unsanitary conditions in housing; overexposing employees to
ammonia and organic dust (including failure to have an effective respiratory
program); hazards associated with machine guarding deficiencies and fall
protection; and risks related to bloodborne exposures and confined space
hazards. Buckeye Egg Farm has agreed to correct all conditions cited at
the Croton facility and will implement applicable provisions of the agreement
at its Mount Victory site.
"Buckeye Egg Farm is choosing to take a positive step to improve safety
and health conditions for its workers at both its egg processing facilities,"
said Charles Jeffress, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. "The settlement
enables the company and OSHA to concentrate on improving safety and
health issues and to avoid the cost and burden of possible prolonged litigation."
Under the settlement agreement, Buckeye Egg Farm will:
Conduct semi-annual safety and health inspections at both facilities
through December 2000 and prepare a report to OSHA.
Develop a plan by Feb. 1, 1999 to identify feasible engineering, work
practice and administrative controls to reduce employee exposure to
ammonia and respirable dust.
Provide affected employees with documented initial and refresher
training in safety and health hazards associated with their specific jobs,
including hazard recognition and avoidance; safety and health
policies/procedures; lockout/tagout; personal protective equipment;
hazard communication; machine guarding requirements; bloodborne
pathogens and biological hazards; emergency evacuation; and injury/illness
Communicate with employees concerning compliance actions
under the settlement; involve employees in safety and health problems,
and respond to employee's concerns or suggestions related to safety and health.
While the company no longer provides housing for migrant agricultural
workers, any future housing must conform to the requirements of the
Occupational Safety and Health Act and Ohio state codes.
Will construct a locker and shower facility to enhance personal
hygiene, and will provide certain employees with coveralls and
Locations will be established for the storage, maintenance, and
distribution of personal protective equipment. Appropriate training
and respirator fit testing will also be provided.
Will provide a safer source of potable water for drinking and
washing at all locations, and will periodically test drinking water
for potential contamination in accordance with Ohio state codes.