A Delaware poultry processing company faces nearly $40,000 in fines for safety violations uncovered after a plant worker suffered an accidental finger amputation on a packaging machine.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said it investigated a Mountaire Farms Inc. poultry processing plant in Selbyville, Del., in June after receiving a report that a worker operating a packaging machine suffered an accidental finger amputation.
OSHA authorities inspecting the Mountaire Farms plant found serious violations associated with electrical and process safety management hazards, as well as violations of lockout/tagout rules meant to prevent machines from accidentally starting up. OSHA said the lockout/tagout violations at the Mountaire poultry plant contributed to the amputation.
Inspectors also found Mountaire exposed its workers to musculoskeletal stress, making them perform tasks requiring repetitive, forceful motion for extended periods of time, and often in awkward positions.
The agency also said that the company has poor “medical management practices in place at the facility that prevent appropriate standards of care, increase the likelihood of workers developing serious musculoskeletal disorders, restrict referrals to physicians, and discourage employees from reporting symptoms and injuries.”
“The combination of musculoskeletal stressors and inappropriate medical management practices at the Selbyville processing facility is harming workers, who are exposed to completely preventable injuries,” said Erin Patterson, area director of OSHA’s Wilmington, Del., office. “Musculoskeletal stressors remain prevalent in the poultry industry and employers must abate those hazards to protect the safety and health of their employees.”
This January will mark the second full year that OSHA’s severe work-related injury reporting requirement has been in effect, mandating that employers report amputations, eye loss, and any other injury that results in hospitalization to OSHA within 24 hours.
Earlier this year, OSHA reported that failure to comply with key safety regulations continues to manifest as a “disturbing trend” of amputations in workplaces throughout the country, with an average of seven such accidents occurring every day.
OSHA proposed Mountaire Farms penalties of $39,762 for the safety violations.