Trade News Release
Tuesday May 18, 1999
Contact: Michael Fluharty
PHONE : (202) 693-1999
HUDSON FOODS AGREES TO ERGONOMICS PROGRAM AT NOEL, MO., FACILITY; PAY $200,000 IN PENALTIES
In the largest ergonomics case ever handled by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Hudson Foods, Inc., yesterday agreed with OSHA to implement a comprehensive ergonomics program at its Noel, Mo., poultry processing plant and to pay $200,000 in penalties to settle two 1997 OSHA cases.
Since OSHA issued the citations in the two cases, on July 22, 1997, and Dec. 19, 1997, Hudson Foods was acquired by Tyson Foods, Inc., which will implement an ergonomics program similar to one at its Monett, Mo., facility. Tyson's Monett facility is a member of OSHA's prestigious Voluntary Protection Program, which recognizes worksites with outstanding safety and health records.
"I am pleased with this agreement because it provides employees at the Noel facility with concrete protection against ergonomic hazards, a serious threat to many American workers," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Charles N. Jeffress. "It also avoids the burden and cost of prolonged litigation and furthers efforts to provide a safe workplace. I applaud Tyson Foods for its willingness to provide good worker protection after it acquired this facility, and I challenge other poultry processors to meet Tyson's commitment."
Hudson agreed to implement the ergonomics program for the jobs cited by OSHA as well as other jobs identified by the company and to provide OSHA with semiannual progress reports. Hudson said it already has corrected some of the conditions cited by OSHA in the July 1997 safety case.
OSHA agreed to amend some of the citations from willful and repeat to serious and to withdraw other citations.
OSHA originally proposed penalties of $332,500 against Hudson Foods for willful, serious and repeat violations of worker safety requirements stemming from the July case, and penalties of $840,000 for willful violations that involved ergonomic hazards in the December case.
The hazards found in 1997 resulted in more than 300 cases of cumulative trauma disorders, such as rotator cuff injuries, among the workers. The citations were issued for violations of Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which requires the employer to keep the workplace free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious injury to the employee.
OSHA is currently developing an ergonomics program standard, which is expected to be formally proposed this fall.
Hudson has about 1,300 workers at the Noel plant. They are represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union, which was part of the settlement discussions.
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The text of this news release is on the Internet World Wide Web at http://www.osha.gov.
Information on this news release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-693-1999.