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OSHA cites Fieldale Farms for safety violations

POSTED: April 16, 2009 10:58 p.m.

Federal officials are proposing a $73,275 fine against Fieldale Farms Corp. following a January inspection that turned up 22 violations.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Thursday that the Hall County poultry processing company was being cited for two repeat violations and 18 new violations that were determined to be serious. There were two other violations that did not carry any monetary penalties.

"To prevent workplace injuries, companies must incorporate good safety practices into their culture and not leave safety to chance," Gei-Thae Breezley, director of OSHA’s Atlanta-East Area Office, said in a statement.

Gus Arrendale, an executive vice president of Fieldale, said the company was working to correct any violations.

The two repeat violations are for the company’s failure to provide standard guardrails for open-sided platforms, and using flexible cords and cables as a substitute for fixed wiring. The agency has proposed fines of $27,500 for the repeat offenses.

Serious violations alleged include the company’s failure to annually train employees on hazards related to blood-borne pathogens and to make the Hepatitis B vaccine available to employees exposed to blood-borne pathogens.

Safety training was not provided to all employees, exit routes were obstructed, and workers were exposed to noise and electrical hazards, the agency said. The company also allegedly failed to provide personal safety equipment and did not have machine guards on equipment.

OSHA has proposed $45,775 in fines for the 18 alleged new violations.

The minor violations involved failure to certify hazards had been eliminated in a permit-required area and providing blood-borne pathogen training for workers who declined the Hepatitis B vaccine and signed a declination form.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA or contest the citations and proposed penalties.

In 2007, OSHA cited Kings Delight, also known as Coleman Natural Foods, for alleged violations at its plant in Braselton. The agency levied fines totaling $150,000 for the repeat violations.

In 2005, the chicken and turkey industries signed an agreement with OSHA to improve worker safety in processing plants.



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