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Chicken plant fined $317 for safety violations

Plant inspected by government agency after serious employee injury

Last month, a chicken processing plant in Birdsboro was issued multiple citations and up to $317,000 in penalties for workplace safety violations after an employee’s finger was amputated.

The plant was issued two willful and eight other serious safety and health violations after an April 2016 inspection by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The organization was notified after the employee lost a finger after an accident with a mixing machine.

Present and prior violations

OSHA also followed up on previous inspections from 2013 – 2015 during their visit to ensure that the past violations were corrected – they were not. OSHA found that the plant still had a poor system for protecting their workers from hazards like machinery. The 2014 inspection of the plant found four repeat violations – three of them being serious – which called for $59,000 in fines.

Violations included holes in the floor which were uncovered, little or no system of protecting the hearing of their workers, inadequate warning signage, failure to secure compressed cylinders of gas, lack of sanitary protective gear or foot protection free to employees and no signs posted to indicate confined spaces, which can pose suffocation risks.

Working together for safety

The amputation that spurred the most recent inspection by OSHA was caused by the unexpected start-up of a machine – another problem that still existed after the amputation and during the visit in April. It’s extra concerning for a repeat offender to continue to let safety violations stand and to not try to take action to stop employees from being injured.

Timothy Braun, OSHA area director in Harrisburg, stated that the plant has left its employees in a vulnerable state against health and safety perils that can cause serious injuries, and that the company must take actions to protect its workers. “Anything else,” Harris said, “is unacceptable.”

The Occupational Safety and health Act of 1970 made employers responsible for the health and well-being of their employees while at work. If you’re injured at work, it may seem frustrating or nearly impossible to get the support you need, whether mental or monetary. But with the right assistance, anyone can successfully file a worker’s compensation claim. If you’ve been injured at work, know someone who has or are aware of any lingering safety issues in the workplace, contact an attorney to help you navigate the process of worker’s comp or reporting safety hazards.

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