Oct. 7, 2014 BOS 2014-167
Judge affirms citations issued for chemical and mechanical hazards
at South Fallsburg, New York, chicken processing plant
NEW YORK – Citations issued to MB Consultants Ltd., doing business as Murray's Chickens, for health and safety violations were affirmed by an administrative law judge from the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, upholding an earlier decision by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The violations occurred at the company's South Fallsburg chicken processing plant.
"This is a critical decision that this employer and others in the industry should pay close attention to," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. "Not informing production employees that the chemical hazards they worked with exposed them to potential illness, or that the absence of machine maintenance procedures left them vulnerable to lacerations, amputations or death, is unacceptable and will be enforced to the highest extent of the law."
OSHA cited the plant in May 2012 for a variety of safety and health hazards, including failure to provide employees with information and training about the hazards of products that contain peracetic acid and bleach, as required by OSHA's hazard communication standard. Violating OSHA's lockout/tagout standard, the company also failed to train production workers whose operations included servicing and maintenance of machines that could unexpectedly start up.
MB Consultants contested its citations, and a hearing was held in Albany on May 21-22, 2013, before Administrative Law Judge William S. Coleman. Judge Coleman issued a ruling on Sept. 19, 2014, upholding these citations and their penalties. Terrence Duncan of the New York Regional Office of the Solicitor tried the case for the secretary of labor.
Judge Coleman found the employer had failed to train production workers on the hazards of chlorine bleach and Perasafe, an antimicrobial agent containing peracetic acid, hydrogen peroxide and acetic acid, used to disinfect chicken carcasses. The judge noted in his decision that employees told the OSHA compliance officer that they had experienced respiratory ailment symptoms and rashes consistent with the exposure symptoms described in the manufacturer's safety data sheets for Perasafe and chlorine bleach.
The judge also found that that the company's machine maintenance procedures were overly general, lacking sufficient detail to provide employees with the steps to protect themselves from amputation and laceration hazards while servicing equipment. Moreover, production workers were not given basic training on how to avoid injuries when service and maintenance work was needed. Two employees were injured when attempting to clear jams on equipment without knowledge of proper procedures.
From the date the administrative law judge's decision is docketed with the review commission, MB Consultants has 20 days to appeal. The original inspection was conducted by OSHA's Albany Area Office. The case was litigated for the department by its Regional Office of the Solicitor in New York.
The Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission is an independent federal agency created to decide contests of citations or penalties resulting from workplace inspections conducted by OSHA. An employer who is cited by OSHA for an alleged workplace health or safety violation can contest the OSHA citation and have the case heard by a commission administrative law judge, who ultimately issues a decision. The judge's decision can then be appealed to the commission, whose members are presidential appointees.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
OSHRC Docket Number: 12-1165 & 12-1269
Perez v. MB Consultants Ltd., doing business as Murray's Chickens
Release Number: 14-1884-NEW
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