For employees of a poultry plant that is a leading supplier of chicken to national fast food and supermarket brands, the dangers of amputation, electrocution, and hazardous falls are all in a day’s work, and part of their employer’s long history of violating federal worker safety and health standards.
U.S. safety regulators say that Case Farms Processing Inc. of Winesburg, Ohio, has been aware of the dangers that threaten to maim and kill workers at its poultry processing plant, but it has done nothing to correct the problems.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said that it investigated the Case Farms facility on August 13 in response to a complaint. The probe resulted in 55 citations for safety violations, nearly $900,000 in penalties, and the company’s enrollment in the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“Case Farms is an outrageously dangerous place to work,” said OSHA’s Dr. David Michaels. “In the past 25 years, Case Farms has been cited for more than 350 safety and health violations. Despite committing to OSHA that it would eliminate serious hazards, Case Farms continues to endanger the safety and health of its workers. This simply must stop.”
Some of the violations for which OSHA cited Case Farms included amputation hazards; falling hazards posed by non-functional fall-arrest systems, unprotected platforms, and wet work surfaces; failure to provide workers with protective equipment; serious electrocution risks; improperly sotred oxygen cylinders; and lack of emergency eye-wash stations.
OSHA issued citations for two willful, 20 repeat, 30 serious, and three other-than-serious violations of federal safety code.
“Case Farms has an extensive history of health and safety violations,” OSHA said in a statement. “Since 1988, OSHA and the Occupational Safety and Health Division of North Carolina’s Department of Labor have inspected the company 66 times at its facilities in North Carolina and Ohio, with citations issued in 42 of those inspections. A majority of the inspections were initiated after worker injuries, complaints or referrals.”
Case Farms Processing is headquartered in Troutman, N.C. The company operates seven facilities in North Carolina and Ohio, employing more than 3,200 workers. OSHA said it is currently investigating the company’s facilities in Canton, Ohio, after receiving reports of employee injuries in that plant.