Safety and OSHA News

OSHA cites company for employees’ ergonomic injuries

OSHA says employees at this company were suffering musculoskeletal (ergonomic) injuries because of repetitive tasks. For that violation and others, the company now faces $38,000 in fines. 

Workers cutting chicken fat, bone and cartilage eight hours a day at Allen Harim Foods’ plant in Harbeson, DE, faced ergonomic hazards because of the prolonged, forceful tasks they performed, according to OSHA.

In all, Harim received citations for six serious and three other-than-serious violations for failure to:

  • address musculoskeletal disorder hazards faced by workers on the debone line (serious, $7,000)
  • designate emergency exits properly (serious)
  • ensure employees received training related to machines that could unexpectedly start up during maintenance (serious)
  • make lavatories available as employees weren’t granted permission to use them and had to wait up to 40 minutes (serious), and
  • report injuries on OSHA 300 and 300A logs correctly (other-than-serious).

“These types of injuries can be prevented by implementing appropriate engineering and administrative controls,” said OSHA administrator David Michaels.

Administrative controls include job rotation to make sure employees aren’t subjected to repetitive tasks over long periods of time.

“The combination of musculoskeletal disorder hazards, lack of proper medical treatment for musculoskeletal disorders and underreporting of injuries at this plant must be addressed by the company,” said Erin Patterson, director of OSHA’s Wilmington, DE office. “Workers should not have to work in pain, especially when these injuries are preventable.”

Harim has 960 workers at the Harbeson plant.

Poultry plants have been an OSHA target for ergonomic violations.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request a conference with OSHA or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHA doesn’t have an ergonomics standard, but it can issue citations for musculoskeletal disorder injuries or hazards under its General Duty Clause.

At the American Society of Safety Engineers annual Safety 2015 conference in Dallas, Michaels said OSHA had recently issued its first repeat GDC citation for ergonomics.

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