TAR HEEL, N.C. – Alleged violations at the Smithfield Packing Co. in Tar Heel has resulted in the NC Department of Labor leveling packer fines totaling $44,100, according to the Blade Journal. Citations were issued to the company after a series of occupational safety and health inspections, according to the NC DOL. Smithfield Packing Co. received citations for two alleged serious violations and one alleged repeat serious violation.
Inspection No. 1 focused on the injury an employee suffered on April 20, while the next inspection was based on a complaint filed with the NC DOL several weeks before that accident.
Violations reportedly included the following:
- Serious violation: The rotating taper lock of a Dodge Quantis brand gear box had unguarded set screws exposing employees. This condition resulted in an accident on or about April 30. Fine: $6,300.
- Serious violation: Smithfield Packing had permanent equipment, such as overhead conveyor systems and duct work that obstructed the exit route of employees working above the mezzanine. Fine: $6,300.
- Repeat serious violation: 1a) the employer did not provide guards, such as barrier guards, for employees who were exposed to point of operation hazards at two snout wheels that had unguarded areas that were 6 inches wide and 1 foot long on; 1b) a meat cutting band saw had 2 to 6 inches of exposed and unguarded cutting blade above the material being cut while processing specialty cuts; 1c) another meat cutting band saw had 2 to 6 inches of exposed and unguarded cutting blade above the material being cut while processing specialty cuts; 1d) still another meat cutting band saw had 2 to 6 inches of exposed and unguarded cutting blade above the material being cut while processing specialty cuts; and 2a) barrier guards for protecting employees from impalement and pinch-point hazards on the jaw-breaker equipment. Fine: $31,500.
The maximum penalty for each serious violation is $7,000 – but penalties for repeat violations are doubled for the first repeat violation, multiplied by five on the second repeat violation and multiplied by 10 on the third and subsequent repeat violations, according to the general statutes of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina,.
Smithfield Packing Co. has 15 working days from the receipt of the citations to ask for an informal conference with the NC DOL, to file a notice of contest with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission of North Carolina or to pay the penalty.