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The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration today cited and fined Yalco Processing Company, Inc., $105,500 following a fatality at the company's Water Valley, Miss., poultry rendering plant.
According to Clyde Payne, OSHA's Jackson area director, one worker was found dead at the bottom of the plant's "feather whipper" on the morning of Jan. 22, 2000. Payne explained that the victim may have entered the "feather whipper" to remove a jam or may have fallen in through the opening at the top of the device.
Following an inspection of the facility, OSHA cited Yalco Processing with 22 serious safety violations with penalties totaling $105,500. An unsecured guard over the "feather whipper" was the cited violation related to the fatality. Other serious citations included:
-- unguarded machinery;
-- fall hazards from open-sided platforms and stairs without railings;
-- uncovered floor holes and drains;
-- obstructed exits;
-- confined space standards violations;
-- failure to develop "lockout/tagout" procedures which render machinery
inoperable during maintenance and repair;
-- failure to train workers about using portable fire extinguishers;
-- failure to have a hazard communication program, and
-- wet and unsanitary floors.
"Work performed in poultry rendering plants is particularly hazardous," said Payne. "In this case, maintenance personnel made an opening at the top of the 'feather whipper' for easy access when making repairs and conducting routine maintenance. Employees often walk on top of the machine to monitor the process in which flat metal bars welded to two horizontal shafts beat and spread-out chicken feathers before they enter a conveyor leading to another area of the facility. The victim was apparently caught by the metal bars and pulled in the "feather whipper."
"We encourage companies to create an effective safety and health program," added Payne. "If these companies can find and fix hazards prior to an OSHA inspection, they can save expensive penalties and, more importantly, they can save lives."
A serious violation is defined by OSHA as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
Yalco Processing Company employs approximately16 workers to process waste and by-products from Valley Fresh, an adjacent poultry processing plant. 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 Mississippi facility were conducted by OSHA's area office located at 3780 I-55 North, Suite 210, Jackson, Miss. 39211-6323; telephone: (601) 965-4606.
OSHA urges employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the Jackson area office. OSHA's toll-free, nationwide hotline -
1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742) - may be used to report workplace accidents or fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially if they occur outside of normal business hours.
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