US Labor Department's OSHA cites Bridgford Food Processing after 2 workers
injured, including an amputation incident, at Chicago meat processing facility
CHICAGO – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Anaheim, Calif.-based Bridgford Food Processing Corp. with four safety – including willful and repeat – violations – at the company's Chicago meat processing facility after a worker suffered amputations of two fingers on Feb. 7 while operating a vacuum packaging machine. A second worker had been injured operating the same machine on Jan. 25, and suffered deep lacerations and tendon damage on four fingers. Proposed fines total $184,000 following an inspection that was opened following the incidents.
"Bridgford Food Processing previously was cited for improper lockout procedures and machine guarding. Repeat violations demonstrate a blatant disregard for employee safety and health," said Gary Anderson, OSHA's area director in Calumet City. "Machinery in the food processing industry is inherently dangerous, and the company has an obligation to take necessary precautions to prevent injuries."
OSHA found that workers used magnets and other tools to override guarding interlock systems on machines. One willful violation stems from not affixing lockout/tagout devices to all energy sources and preventing workers from coming into contact with machines' points of operation. OSHA deemed this violation willful because, despite the company's history of injuries caused by lockout failures, Bridgford had taken few precautionary measures to prevent similar incidents at the facility. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
Two repeat violations involve failing to develop and train employees in machine-specific lockout/tagout procedures. 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 violations were cited by OSHA following a July 2010 inspection at the same facility.
Finally, one serious violation involves improperly guarding machines. 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.
The citations can be viewed at: http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Bridgford-Food-Processing-Corp-192053-0724-12.pdf*.
Bridgford Food Processing Corp., a manufacturer of various processed and frozen foods, employs about 140 workers at its Chicago meat processing location and 535 companywide, with two other facilities in Dallas, Texas, and one in Statesville, N.C. This inspection is OSHA's ninth of the Chicago facility since 2007.
Bridgford Food Processing was placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program after being cited for willful and repeat safety violations based on the July 2010 inspection at the Chicago plant. Those violations involved exposing workers to energized equipment by failing to implement and provide training on lockout/tagout procedures. OSHA has conducted follow-up inspections at both the Chicago and Dallas facilities under the program, which mandates follow-up inspections of recalcitrant employers that have endangered workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. For more information about the program, visit http://s.dol.gov/J3.
Since the company was placed in the program, OSHA has cited additional violations at several facilities. Citations carrying $118,700 in penalties were issued in March 2012 for 22 safety and health violations at the Chicago facility, citations carrying $174,500 in penalties were issued in February 2012 for eight safety violations at the facility on Chancellor Row in Dallas, and citations carrying $422,600 in penalties were issued in October 2011 for 27 safety and health violations at the facility on South Good Latimer Expressway in Dallas. The company is contesting all of these citations.
Bridgford Food Processing has 15 business days from receipt of its current citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings 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.
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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD 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.