US Labor Department's OSHA proposes more than $118,000 in fines
to Bridgford Foods for violations at Chicago meat processing plant
Company is in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program
CHICAGO – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Anaheim, Calif.-based Bridgford Foods Corp. with 22 safety and health – including four repeat – violations at its Chicago meat processing plant. Proposed penalties total $118,700.
OSHA's Calumet City Area Office began an inspection Sept. 29 at the Chicago plant as part of the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates follow-up inspections of recalcitrant employers that have endangered workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Bridgford Foods was placed in the program after being cited for willful and repeat safety violations based on a July 2010 inspection at the Chicago plant for exposing workers to energized equipment by failing to implement and provide training on lockout/tagout procedures.
Three repeat health violations involve failing to mark chemical containers with their contents and hazardous warning labels, as well as to provide an emergency eyewash station for employees working with corrosive chemicals such as sodium hypochlorite and anhydrous ammonia. One repeat safety violation is having an obstructed emergency exit. 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 safety violations were cited in 2010 and similar health violations were cited in 2008 and 2010 at the Chicago facility.
Nine serious safety violations involve a lack of guardrails on open pits, no hoist way enclosure on an elevator shaft, a lack of machine guarding, no handrails on staircases with six risers and a lack of emergency illumination, as well as electrical safety violations such as not enclosing live electrical equipment, missing electrical ground pins, not inspecting the power cords of damaged equipment and not covering unused circuit breakers.
Seven serious health violations include failing to conduct annual respirator fit tests and training, provide an emergency response plan and first responder awareness training, provide annual hazardous material technical-level training, conduct hazard assessments for employees exposed to eye and skin hazards, and use electrical equipment approved for a hazardous location. 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.
One other-than serious safety violation is failing to have floor hole covers and one other-than-serious health violation is failing to have material safety data sheets for the chemical sodium hypochlorite. 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.
"Bridgford Foods Processing has the responsibility to ensure that its employees are properly trained and protected from workplace hazards such as falls and chemical use," said Gary Anderson, OSHA's area director in Calumet City. "Employers cited for repeat violations demonstrate a lack of commitment to employee safety and health. OSHA is committed to protecting workers, especially when employers fail to do so."
This OSHA inspection was the fifth since 2007 of the Chicago facility, where about 150 workers are employed. Bridgford Foods Processing, which employs about 535 workers companywide, operates two facilities in Dallas, Texas, and one in Statesville, N.C.
OSHA also has conducted follow-up inspections at the Dallas facilities under the Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Eight safety violations carrying $174,500 in penalties were cited in February 2012 at the facility on Chancellor Row, and 27 safety and health violations carrying $422,600 were cited in October 2011 at the facility on South Good Latimer Expressway. For more information about the program, visit http://s.dol.gov/J3.
The citations can be viewed at: http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Bridgford-Food-Processing-Corp_107124_0328_12.pdf* and http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Bridgford-Food-Processing-Corp_107107_0328_12.pdf*.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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) or the agency's Calumet City office at 708-891-3800.
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.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.
* Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at (202) 693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.