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OSHA National News Release
U.S. Department of Labor
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 recordkeeping.
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 laundry service.
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.
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