OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
Blocked Exits Among Items Cited By OSHA
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today proposed penalties totaling $332,500 against Hudson Foods, Inc., a Noel, Mo., poultry processor, for willful, serious and repeat violations of requirements for worker safety.
"Every American worker has a right to a safe and healthy workplace, and one of my top priorities is to make that right a reality," said Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman. "We cannot allow employers to continuously place their employees at risk of death or serious injury by ignoring good safety and health practices. By repeatedly endangering its employees' lives, Hudson Foods brought these penalties on itself."
OSHA began its inspection of Hudson Foods Jan. 22, 1997, following stories in the news media and worker complaints about poor working conditions at the Noel processing plant, which employs 1,400 people.
Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Gregory R. Watchman said, "Hudson Foods endangered workers by blocking fire and emergency exits, despite the fact that it had a history of plant fires. The company also failed to give cleanup crews proper protection against chemicals that resulted in serious eye injuries."
OSHA cited Hudson Foods today for three alleged willful violations at $70,000 each for a total penalty of $210,000; 17 alleged serious violations with a penalty of $68,500; two repeat violations with a penalty of $50,000; and 12 alleged other-than- serious violations with a penalty of $4,000.
In addition to the safety conditions cited today, OSHA is investigating ergonomic hazards in the plant and will report on those later.
The willful violations involve blocked and restricted fire and emergency exits; lack of enforcement and training for employees' use of eye protective equipment; and failure to provide proper hazard communication training and procedures (hazardous chemicals were stored in containers without proper labels).
Hudson Foods has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA has inspected the Noel Hudson Foods facility 23 other times since 1973. In 16 of those inspections citations were issued, some for serious violations.
The Wage and Hour Division of the Labor Department's Employment Standards Administration is investigating housing where some Hudson Foods workers reside for possible violations of the Migrant and Seasonal Worker Protection Act.
ALLEGED WILLFUL VIOLATIONS
Blocked and restricted fire/emergency exits -- $70,000
Failure to provide training in and enforce use of eye protective equipment by employees -- $70,000
Failure to provide training and procedures for handling hazardous chemicals -- $70,000
Total Proposed Penalties for Alleged Willful Violations -- $210,000
(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
Fall hazards for employees climbing 18 feet above the floor onto stacked boxes.
Inadequate housekeeping, deficient fixed stairs.
Defective portable ladders, deficient lighting of exit signs.
Failure to provide lockout/tagout training.
Nonfunctioning eye wash and shower facilities.
Inadequate aisle clearances for material handling equipment.
Not stacking boxes securely.
Deficiencies in the modifications, operations and training related to fork lift trucks.
Failure to securely anchor machines to prevent movement.
Electrical deficiencies and failure to provide electrical
personal protective equipment.
Total Proposed Penalties for Alleged Serious Violations -- $68,500
(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 Repeat Violations
Unmarked and obstructed aisles. -- $25,000
Lack of machine guarding (such as on meat cutting saws and deboning machines. -- $25,000
Total Proposed Penalties for Alleged Repeat Violations -- $50,000
(A repeat violation is one in which the employer has been cited previously for a substantially similar condition and the citation has become a final order.)
Alleged Other-than-Serious Violations
Deficient practices for keeping records of injuries and illnesses.
Failure to post platform limits.
Deficient fixed stairways
Hearing conservation deficiencies.
Overexposing employees to carbon dioxide.
Insufficient toilet facilities.
Total Proposed Penalties for Alleged Other-than-Serious Violations -- $4,000
(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 -- $332,500
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