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OSHA piles more safety citations on troubled chicken plant

OSHA piles more safety citations on troubled chicken plant

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has tagged severe violator Case Farms L.L.C. with additional citations and penalties for repeated safety violations at an Ohio processing facility.

An October OSHA inspection at the Troutman, North Carolina-based chicken processor's Winesburg, Ohio, facility evaluated record-keeping and employee exposure to campylobacter bacteria, which humans can contract by touching animal feces and which can lead to gastrointestinal infection, the agency said Thursday in a statement.

No OSHA standard exists to address campylobacter exposure, and the agency said it does not consider it appropriate at this time to cite the employer under the general duty clause, used when no standard exists for a particular hazard, according to the agency. But OSHA issued a hazard alert letter for failing to implement a program and train employees to minimize campylobacter exposure, with the letter outlining prevention measures it recommended Case Farms voluntarily take, according to the letter.

The agency cited the company for two repeat and one other-than-serious safety violation for failing to complete a required form for each recordable injury or illness, record an injury or illness within seven calendar days of occurrence and provide requested records within four business hours, and proposed $23,100 in penalties, according to the release.

“Case Farms has a long track record of failing to comply with federal workplace safety standards and needs to follow through on its commitment to make improvements to equipment, procedures and training to protect its workers on the job,” Deborah Zubaty, OSHA's area director in Columbus, Ohio, said in a statement “OSHA will remain vigilant until the company keeps its workers safe by making needed improvements to equipment, procedures and training.”

The chicken processor is facing $1.9 million in fines proposed by OSHA in 2015 at its Ohio facilities — fines that are being contested by Case Farms, according to the release. In August, OSHA placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which focuses resources on inspecting employers that, according to the agency, have demonstrated indifference to their Occupational Safety and Health Act obligations through willful, repeated or failure-to-abate violations.

Case Farms acknowledged receipt of the OSHA citations in a statement on Thursday.

“The citations are being reviewed and we will work with OSHA, as we have in the past, to address the concerns outlined in the citations,” the statement said.

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