September 18, 2023
Federal investigators find Texas poultry processor endangered line workers by ignoring ergonomic, unguarded machinery hazards
Holmes Foods Inc. cited for 5 serious violations, assessed $60K in penalties
AUSTIN, TX – A workplace safety investigation found that a Nixon poultry processor exposed employees to ergonomic hazards, a common industry safety concern and the cause of many injuries to its workers. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates about 50 percent of injuries and illnesses in the poultry processing industry involve musculoskeletal disorders.
After a scheduled inspection on March 15, 2023, under OSHA's Regional Emphasis Program for Poultry Processing Facilities, investigators found that Holmes Foods Inc. violated federal workplace safety regulations when the company did the following:
- Failed to provide required eye protection.
- Did not develop procedures to lock out and tagout machines to prevent sudden start-ups.
- Failed to guard rotating shafts, chains and sprockets.
OSHA also found that Holmes violated OSHA's General Duty Clause by exposing line workers to ergonomic hazards.
"Holmes Foods exposed employees whose jobs require repetitive motions and lifting tasks to recognized workplace hazards that can cause long-term injuries," said OSHA Area Director Monica Munoz in Austin, Texas. "The company must follow federal requirements to protect workers, including those whose work is essential to the region's food supply. We will hold employers accountable when they fail to meet their legal obligations."
Founded in 1925 and headquartered in Nixon, Holmes Foods Inc. is a family-owned company that raises, processes, packages and distributes ready-to-cook poultry for food service providers and retail deli markets. Holmes Foods employs about 500 workers at its Nixon facility.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the 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.
Release Number: 23-2019-DAL