Case Farms faces more than $1.87M in OSHA fines

by Erica Shaffer
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Case Farms counters OSHA's characterization of the company's workplace safety.
Case Farms is facing additional OSHA penalties.

CANTON, Ohio – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) leveled additional penalties of $462,000 against Case Farms Processing Inc. The additional fines were for safety issues with the company’s ammonia refrigeration systems at its Ohio processing plants, OSHA reported. Case Farms has accumulated more than $1.87 million fines this year for multiple safety and health violations, the agency noted.

Case Farms responded to the citations in a statement: “Case Farms today received citations from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). While we do not deem it appropriate to comment on ongoing administrative matters, we do not agree with the negative characterizations that have been made about our company and our employees. We value our employees and are committed to providing a safe and healthy work environment. The citations are being reviewed and we will work with OSHA, as we have in the past, to address the concerns outlined in the citations.”

OSHA cited Case Farms for 11 repeated, four serious and two other-than-serious violations on Dec. 1 at the company’s plant in Winesburg, Ohio. Proposed penalties total $308,000. Case Farms’ Canton facility faces an additional $154,000 in penalties after OSHA cited it for five repeated and three serious violations.

“Case Farms needs to protect its workers. Period,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “The company has a 25-year track record of failing to comply with federal workplace safety standards. OSHA will remain vigilant until the company keeps its workers safe by making needed improvements to equipment, procedures and training.”

OSHA said Case Farms was cited for many of the same violations in 2011. A follow-up inspection found 16 repeated and five serious violations of process safety management procedures for ammonia refrigeration systems used in at the Canton and Winesburg plants. Inspectors also found the company lacked clear, written operating procedures, failed to test and inspect systems and did not provide adequate training for workers.

In September, OSHA Case Farms for 16 violations at its Canton facility. The agency said safety failures resulted in two serious injuries. A 17-year-old worker employed by subcontractor Cal-Clean of Greensboro, NC, had his left leg amputated from the knee while he was cleaning a liver-giblet chiller machine. And a 24-year-old Case Farms employee lost the fingertips of his right middle and ring fingers because the operating parts of a plunger on a fat sucker machine were not prevented from operating during the cleaning process, OSHA said.

Case Farms has facilities in Canton, Strasburg, Massillon and Winesburg, Ohio. The company’s North Carolina operations are in Dudley, Goldsboro, Mount Olive and Morganton. The company processes more than 900 million lbs. of poultry products annually and employs 3,200 workers.

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