O.S.H.A. charges processor with safety, health violations

by Bryan Salvage
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ATLANTA — Twenty-two safety and health violations with fines of $73,275 has been proposed against Fieldale Farms Poultry LLC by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. O.S.H.A. relayed on April 16 a January inspection of the company's processing plant in Gainesville, Ga., resulted in the agency citing two repeat violations with $27,500 in proposed penalties, 18 serious violations with $45,775 in proposed penalties and two other-than-serious violations with no monetary penalties.

"To prevent workplace injuries, companies must incorporate good safety practices into their culture and not leave safety to chance," said Gei-Thae Breezley, director of O.S.H.A.'s Atlanta-East area office.

Fieldale’s two repeat violations are for failing to provide standard guardrails for open-sided platforms, and using flexible cords and cables as a substitute for fixed wiring. O.S.H.A. issues repeat violations when it finds, following an initial violation, a substantially similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other of a company's facilities in federal enforcement states.

Serious violations alleged include the company's failure to annually train employees on hazards related to bloodborne pathogens and to make the Hepatitis B vaccine available to employees exposed to bloodborne pathogens. Safety training was not provided to all employees, exit routes were obstructed, and workers were exposed to noise and electrical hazards, O.S.H.A. claims.

Fieldale is also charged with failing to provide personal safety equipment and not having machine guards on equipment. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard, about which the employer knew or should have known.

The two other-than-serious citations were for the company's failure to certify that all hazards of the permit required confined space had been eliminated, bloodborne pathogen training had been conducted and employees who declined the Hepatitis B vaccine had signed a declination form.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the O.S.H.A. Atlanta-East area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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