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News Release USDL: 97-289
Monday, August 18, 1997
Contact: Susan Fleming (202)219-8151

OSHA Proposes $1 Million In Fines Against Ohio Egg Processor Safety And Health Violations At Work And In Housing Cited

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today proposed penalties totaling $1,072,000 against AgriGeneral Co., LP, of Croton, Ohio, a major egg producer, for forcing its employees to live and work under life-threatening conditions.

AgriGeneral produces, processes and distributes eggs at its 7,000-acre Croton facility, which has 310 employees. About 4.5 million eggs are produced daily by the almost 10 million chickens on the farm. Doucas (Duke) Goranites, president of the company, formerly was president of DeCoster Egg Farms, Turner, Me., which was the subject of another major OSHA enforcement case.

Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman said, "One of my top priorities is to ensure all workers a safe and healthful workplace. The Labor Department will not tolerate workers being treated with less than dignity and, in fact, being put in harm's way. OSHA's high penalty against AgriGeneral reflects the seriousness of these violations and our seriousness in correcting a lack of regard for the workers' safety and health."

OSHA began its inspection of the Croton facility following a referral from the Ohio Department of Health, which was concerned about the safety and health conditions at the farm.

OSHA cited AgriGeneral for 15 alleged willful violations with a total penalty of $1,005,000; 13 alleged serious violations with a penalty of $66,000; and one alleged other-than-serious violation with a penalty of $1,000.

Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Gregory R. Watchman said, "Workers were exposed to possible falls of 100 feet from an elevated catwalk and to unguarded machinery that may result in amputations. They also were exposed to levels of ammonia and organic dust that could produce respiratory irritation and disease."

In the migrant housing, OSHA found such conditions as raw sewage as much as an inch deep in a basement; drinking water contaminated with coliform bacteria; ungrounded electrical fixtures and wiring; no laundry facilities; inadequate lighting; no screens on windows, allowing insect infestation; and holes in the foundations permitting rodents, mosquitos and other pests to harbor.

Company officials were aware of these conditions. When OSHA began inspecting the housing, the company moved the temporary migrant employees to a hotel. Later they were returned to the housing, but the deficiencies went uncorrected.

The willful citations included eight instance-by-instance violations involving exposing temporary migrant workers to fire and electrical hazards and to unsafe and unsanitary conditions in the housing provided by AgriGeneral, with penalties totaling $560,000.

Other willful citations were for overexposing employees to ammonia and organic dust containing endotoxins and failure to have an effective respirator program, $70,000; exposing employees to 100-foot fall hazards, $70,000; exposing employees to burns and smoke inhalation because of lack of safe exits from barns, $70,000; failure to train employees on lockout procedures for maintaining machinery, $70,000; failure to train employees on the hazardous chemicals in the workplace, $40,000; unguarded nip points on belts and pulleys, pulley and cable system, or chains and gears, $70,000; and unguarded moving machinery parts, $55,000.

The serious violations include exposing employees to fire and explosion hazards from unapproved electrical equipment, slips or falls while working on slippery floors, disease and dehydration due to unsanitary conditions and lack of safe drinking water and bathroom facilities, crushing hazards due to lack of adequate foot protection, eye injuries due to inadequate eye protection, fire hazards due to inadequate flammable and combustible liquid storage, electrical hazards due to ungrounded and exposed live electrical parts, and skin lacerations and pulmonary embolisms from high-pressure compressed air.

Other serious violations involved the bloodborne pathogens standard, confined space hazards, hazard communication, not guarding moving machinery parts, and not guarding the mesh or nip points of belts and pulleys, bell cranks and shafts.

The other-than serious citation was issued for not including all recordable injuries in the OSHA log of injuries and illnesses.

AgriGeneral and its predecessor firm, Croton Egg Farms, have been inspected 10 times since l982 and have received citations for a variety of violations, including machine guarding, inadequate eye protection, lockout/tagout, and hazard communication.

AgriGeneral has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

SUMMARY OF CITATIONS AND PROPOSED PENALTIES
AGRIGENERAL COMPANY, LP
CROTON, OHIO

Alleged Willful Violations

  • Eight instances of exposing temporary migrant employees to fire and electrical hazards due to ungrounded and exposed live electrical equipment in the housing provided by the employer, a violation of Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which imposes a general duty on the employer to provide a workplace free from known and recognized hazards that could result in death or serious physical injury.

  • Eight instances of exposing temporary migrant workers to unsafe and unsanitary conditions in the housing provided by the employer, a violation of the requirements for temporary labor camps. Combined total penalty, $560,000

  • Employees overexposed to ammonia and organic dust containing endotoxins and failure to have an effective respirator program, in violation of Section 5(a)(1). $70,000

  • Employees exposed to fall hazards while working in unprotected elevated locations, Section 5(a)(1) $70,000

  • Employees exposed to burns and smoke inhalation because of lack of safe exits from barns, Section 5(a)(1) $70,000

  • Failure to train employees on the hazardous chemicals in the workplace, in violation of hazard communication standard. $40,000

  • Failure to train employees on lockout procedures (control of hazardous energy), in violation of agricultural equipment standard. $70,000

  • Failure to guard belts and pulleys, pulley and cable system or chains and gears, in violation of agricultural equipment standard. $70,000

  • Failure to guard moving machinery parts, in violation of agricultural equipment standard. $55,000

Total penalties for alleged willful violations = $1,005,000

(Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.)

Alleged Serious Violations

  • Employees exposed to fire/explosion hazard from unapproved electrical equipment, violation of Section 5(a)(1). $7,000

  • Employees exposed to slips, trips or falls while working on slippery floors, violation of Section 5(a)(1). $2,500

  • Employees exposed to diseases and dehydration due to unsanitary conditions and lack of safe drinking water and bathroom/hand washing facilities, violation of Section 5(a)(1). $7,000

  • Employees exposed to crushing hazards due to lack of adequate foot protection, Section 5(a)(1). $3,500

  • Employees exposed to eye injuries due to inadequate eye protection, violation of Section 5(a)(1). $3,500

  • Employees exposed to fire hazards due to inadequate storage of flammable and combustible liquids, Section 5(a)(1). .$2,500

  • Employees exposed to electrical hazards due to ungrounded and exposed live electrical parts, Section 5(a)(1). $7,000

  • Employees exposed to skin lacerations and pulmonary embolisms from high pressure compressed air, violation of Section 5(a)(1). $2,500

  • Employees exposed to bloodborne pathogens, Section 5(a)(1). $7,000

  • Employees exposed to confined space hazards, Section 5(a)(1). $7,000

  • Failure to have material safety data sheets for all chemicals used at the worksite, as required by hazard communication standard. $2,500

  • Failure to guard moving parts of machinery, as required by agricultural equipment standard. $7,000

  • Failure to guard mesh or nip points of belts and pulleys, bell cranks and shafts, as required by agricultural equipment standard. $7,000

Total Penalties for Alleged Serious Violations = $66,000

(A serious violation is defined as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.)

Alleged Other-than-Serious Violation

  • Failure to include all recordable injuries on OSHA 200 log of injuries and illnesses. $1,000

(An other-than-serious violation is a hazardous condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm, but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and/or health of employees.)

GRAND TOTAL OF PROPOSED PENALTIES = $1,072,000

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Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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