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Poultry processor fined over workers' repetitive injuries

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The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said on Monday that the operators of a Delaware poultry plant face $38,000 in fines for musculoskeletal injuries suffered by its employees.

OSHA cited the operator, Seaford, Delaware-based Allen Harim Foods L.L.C., for conditions at its Harbeson, Delaware, processing facility. A December 2014 inspection revealed that while manually deboning chickens, workers performed “prolonged, repetitive and forceful tasks” without controls in place to prevent injuries, OSHA said in a statement.

“Musculoskeletal injuries caused by these hazards in poultry plants are too common,” Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels said in a statement. “These types of injuries can be prevented by implementing appropriate engineering and administrative controls in the workplace, and when they occur, they must be treated early with appropriate medical care to prevent the illness from progressing.”

In addition to the citation for the company's failure to address the musculoskeletal risks to workers, OSHA issued serious citations for failing to designate emergency exits properly and to ensure employees received training related to machinery. According to OSHA, the company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before an independent commission.

“The combination of musculoskeletal disorder hazards, lack of proper medical treatment for musculoskeletal disorders and underreporting of injuries at this plant must be addressed by the company,” said Erin Patterson, director of OSHA's Wilmington, Delaware, office. “Workers should not have to work in pain, especially when these injuries are preventable.”

In a e-mailed statement, the company said it would work with OSHA to address the safety issues.

“Allen Harim takes worker safety issues very seriously and we work diligently every day to provide the safest possible environment for all our employees. We will be discussing these issues with OSHA over the coming weeks and continue to monitor best practices to ensure our workers are among the safest in the industry.”