Pennsylvania Food Company Fined Over $300,000 in Work Hazard Case
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), a Pennsylvania company is facing a whopping fine of almost $320,000 for exposing factory workers to serious work dangers. See Sept. 14, 2016 OSHA news release, “OSHA fines Pennsylvania chicken processing company $317K for exposing workers to health and safety hazards following employee amputation.”
During an OSHA inspection back in April, OSHA inspectors allegedly found multiple violations. The inspection was conducted after OSHA had received a report that a worker sustained an amputation injury while operating a machine at the food processing plant.
The employer received a total of ten violations, two of which were willful violations, i.e., where the employer either knowingly fails to comply with a legal requirement or acts with plain indifference to employee safety. Fines for the willful violations came to roughly $250,000 of the total fine and were related to OSHA lockout, tagout regulations.
Food Processing Equipment Dangers, Lockout & Tagout
OSHA requires employers in the food processing industry to use proper lockout/tagout procedures which are designed to prevent equipment or machinery from starting up unexpectedly. However, time and time again employers disregard lockout/tagout regulations. What’s worse is that injuries due to improper lockout/tagout procedures have been increasing. In 2013, lockout/tagout injuries ranked 8th in OSHA’s top 10 work injury list. In 2015, they moved up to spot 5.
The Problem of Unexpected Startups During Maintenance
Those who work in the food processing industry face serious work related risks including crushed limbs and amputations. Oftentimes, these injuries occur when a worker is servicing or maintaining a piece of food processing equipment, and the machine starts unexpectedly. Fingers and arms often get caught in moving parts of the machine causing crush or amputation injuries.
In this most recent food manufacturing OSHA violation in Pennsylvania, the company is alleged to have violated lockout/tagout regulations earlier this year, thus leading to an amputation injury. According to OSHA, the same violations were committed just two years prior, in 2014.
Related: Pennsylvania Work Injuries – Can You Sue an Employer for an Injury on the Job or for Negligence? [One of the first questions an injured worker in Pennsylvania has is whether the employer is liable for the accident and injuries. In most cases, the answer will be “no,” unless an exception applies. One of the most common exceptions applies in cases where there is some evidence of significant wrongdoing on the part of the employer. Fraud, deceit, etc. are usually required.]
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