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Region 4 News Release: USDL: 99-133
Friday, July 09, 1999
Contact: Luis Santiago
PHONE: (912) 652-4393
OSHA FINES ROGER WOOD FOODS $237,000 FOLLOWING ACCIDENTAL DEATH AT SAVANNAH, GEORGIA, PLANT
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today cited Roger Wood Foods, Inc., and proposed penalties totaling $237,000 following a fatal accident at the company's Savannah, Ga., plant.
According to Luis Santiago, OSHA's Savannah area director, the agency began conducting a comprehensive health and safety inspection of the plant in January 1999 following the death of a maintenance worker who was crushed by a mechanical meat vat dumper. The machine had not been "locked out," a procedure that cuts off energy sources so that machinery remains inoperative during servicing.
OSHA's inspection resulted in citations against Roger Wood Foods for 31 serious violations with a combined penalty of $127,000. The serious items included deficiencies associated with "lockout" safety procedures, noise exposure, use of respirators, walking/working surfaces, management of the anhydrous ammonia process, emergency response, and electrical and fire hazards.
Two willful violations found during the inspection drew additional penalties of $110,000. The willful violations included employee exposure to high levels of noise without hearing protection and inadequate training in the energy control, or "lockout," program.
Santiago said, "When an employer willfully ignores safety standards and consistently places workers in danger of serious injury and death, we are forced to take strong action.
"In January 1998, this company was cited for equipment "lockout" hazards, the same kind of violation that resulted in a fatality a year later. Yet, company management still knowingly permitted employees to work on equipment during repair, maintenance and cleaning operations without training them to be fully aware of all the energy sources that needed to be secured prior to starting work."
Santiago added that OSHA had previously cited the company for violations in connection with lack of noise protection. "In addition," said Santiago, "independent outside contractors had, in 1992, 1995 and 1998, noted that employees were exposed to high noise levels without hearing protection. But the employer did not institute a requirement for such protection until April 1999, almost three months after our most recent inspection."
OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSH Act and regulations.
A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
In its headquarter city of Savannah, Roger Wood Foods employs 220 workers in the production of sausages and other prepared meats. The company has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Inspections of the worksite were conducted by OSHA's area office located at 450 Mall Boulevard, Suite J, Savannah, Ga. 31406-1418; telephone: 912/652-4393.
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