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Food company cited on forklift safety after worker death

Posted On: Jul. 5, 2016 12:00 AM CST

A food manufacturer has been cited and is facing $107,000 in proposed fines from federal workplace safety regulators after an employee died from a 24-foot fall.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Bell Gardens, California-based Wei-Chuan U.S.A. Inc., a subsidiary of Taipei, Taiwan-based Wei-Chuan Food Corp., for one willful, one repeat and six serious violations after its investigation found that negligent forklift safety practices caused the fatality at its Jersey City, New Jersey, food distribution warehouse, the agency said Thursday in a statement.

The agency initiated the December 2015 inspection after the Jersey City Police Department notified OSHA of a worker's death at the facility, according to the agency. OSHA inspectors found that a 60-year-old warehouse supervisor died after falling from a top-tier warehouse rack and that the company knowingly allowed forklifts to elevate employees on pallets as they conducted inventory.

OSHA cited the company with a willful violation for its failure to use an approved platform for raising employees on forklifts and failure to provide fall protection, and a repeat violation for hazard communication training deficiencies, for which the company had been cited in February 2011, according to the agency. The serious violations include lack of hand protection while handling hazardous materials, electrical hazards and a lack of forklift training.

“Wei-Chuan U.S.A. failed to provide required fall protection and ensure its forklift practices were safe, resulting in a preventable fatality,” Brian Flynn, acting director at OSHA's Parsippany, New Jersey, area office, said in a statement. “This tragedy could have been prevented if the company used basic safeguards and properly trained its employees to recognize workplace hazards.”

A company spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.