OSHA fines chicken processor for unsafe working conditions

OSHA fines chicken processor for unsafe working conditions
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A leading fast-food and supermarket chicken supplier faces an $816,500 fine for exposing workers to serious and potentially fatal injuries.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) cited Case Farms with 55 health and safety violations Thursday.

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The citations are the result of a February inspection in which the agency found amputation hazards; non-functioning fall-arrest systems, unprotected platforms and wet work surfaces that could result in falls; lack of personal protective equipment and emergency eye wash stations; and improperly stored oxygen cylinders.

“Case Farms is an outrageously dangerous place to work. In the past 25 years, Case Farms has been cited for more than 350 safety and health violations,” David Michaels, OSHA’s assistant secretary of labor, said in a news release. “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.”

OSHA said it has, with the Occupational Safety and Health Division of North Carolina’s Department of Labor, inspected the company’s facilities in North Carolina and Ohio 66 times since 1988. The inspections resulted in 42 citations. The inspections, the agency said, were initiated after worker injuries, complaints or referrals.

In a statement, Case Farms said the company is reviewing the citations and working with OSHA to resolve the issues.

"Case Farms values its employees and is committed to ensuring a safe and healthy work environment for its associates," the company said.

Headquartered in Troutman, N.C., Case Farms processes 2.8 million chickens per week at seven facilities in North Carolina and Ohio with more than 3,200 employees. OSHA said the company produces more than 900 million pounds of fresh, partially cooked and frozen-for-export poultry products yearly.

The agency has given the company 15 days to respond to the latest citations.

This story was updated at 4:49 p.m. to include the statement from Case Farms.