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Region 5 News Release: 11-3-CHI
Jan. 11, 2011
Contact: Rhonda Burke       Scott Allen
Phone: 312-353-6976       312-353-6976
E-mail: burke.rhonda@dol.gov       allen.scott@dol.gov

US Labor Department's OSHA fines Bridgford Foods
Processing $212,000 for endangering workers

CHICAGO – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued the Bridgford Foods Processing Corp. facility in Chicago 10 safety citations for failing to implement and provide training for workers on lockout/tagout procedures, thereby exposing them to energized equipment. The meat processing plant is facing proposed penalties of $212,000.

"By failing to train employees and enforce lockout/tagout procedures, Bridgford Foods placed employees in danger of serious injury from equipment that was not properly de-energized," said Gary Anderson, OSHA's area director in Calumet City, Ill. "OSHA is committed to ensuring that workers are provided a safe and healthful workplace."

As a result of a July 2010 OSHA inspection, Bridgford Foods Processing has been issued one willful citation, with a proposed penalty of $70,000, for allowing workers to remove a shovel stuck in an auger screw conveyor without locking or tagging out the auger, placing employees in danger of the machine operating while they worked to remove the shovel. A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the law or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Bridgford Foods Processing also has been issued six repeat citations, with proposed fines of $135,000, for having locked exit doors, failing to provide lockout/tagout or electrical safety training, failing to provide a load backrest extension on a powered industrial truck to minimize the hazard of material falling and failing to specifically outline energy control procedures. OSHA issues a repeat citation 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.

Additionally, two serious citations have been issued for failing to perform periodic energy control inspections and to maintain unobstructed exit routes. Those citations carry penalties of $7,000. An OSHA violation is serious 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 citation has been issued for failing to properly illuminate exit signs. 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' Chicago facility has been inspected by OSHA three times since November 2007, resulting in 29 health and safety citations. The company is headquartered in Anaheim, Calif., and also operates two factories in Dallas, Texas, and one in Statesville, N.C.

This investigation falls under the requirements of OSHA's Severe Violators Enforcement Program. Initiated in the spring of 2010, SVEP focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations in one or more of the following circumstances: a fatality or catastrophe, industry operations or processes that expose workers to severe occupational hazards, employee exposure to hazards related to the potential releases of highly hazardous chemicals and all egregious enforcement actions. For more information on SVEP, go to http://www.osha.gov/dep/svep-directive.pdf*.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its 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. Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards can call OSHA's Calumet City Area Office at 708-891-3800. To report workplace injuries, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

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 assure 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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