Equipment Causes Death at Poultry Plant; OSHA Finds Violations

Over the past few weeks we've posted about several serious OSHA violations. We've discussed exposure to harmful dusts and chemicals, inadequate training for workers, and violations relating to whistleblowers -- some in Texas and some elsewhere. This week, we have yet another story of an unsafe workplace to tell, this time involving unguarded equipment.

Last year, a Mississippi man was killed on the job at Southern Hens Inc., a poultry processing plant. The worker was cleaning a screw conveyor when he lost his balance and fell into it. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration responded to the incident by conducting a thorough investigation. What they found, unfortunately, was that the man's death could have been prevented.

According to OSHA's investigation, the poultry processing plant had 37 violations that could serious jeopardize workers' safety and health. Among those serious violations was the fact that the machinery the man fell into was not properly guarded. In fact, the investigation found that several pieces of equipment were not properly guarded. In addition to the 37 serious violations, OSHA also cited Southern Hens Inc for six less-serious violations. The company was fined $160,000 for the violations. They have 15 business days to contest the fines, pay them or ask for a meeting with OSHA's area director.

Sadly, it often takes a serious accident like this one to prompt a workplace into adhering to federal safety laws. As OSHA continues to strive to hold companies accountable for their errors, hopefully companies in Texas and across the country will take the initiative to maintain a safe environment for their workers.

Source: Mississippi Business Journal, "OSHA finds 43 violations following fatality at poultry company," March 12, 2013

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