Safety and OSHA News

Teen loses leg in work injury: Company’s fines now total $1.4M

A 17-year-old working at a chicken processing plant had his left leg amputated from the knee down while he was cleaning a machine. Now the plant and the contracting company that employed him both face significant OSHA fines. 

“A teenager’s life has been forever altered because of a devastating leg injury just weeks after starting this job,” said OSHA administrator David Michaels. “How many injuries will it take before Case Farms stops exposing workers to dangerous machinery parts?”

OSHA issued 2 willful, 10 repeat and 4 serious safety violations with proposed penalties of $424,600 to Case Farms Processing Inc. in connection with the teen’s and one other worker’s injuries at its Canton, OH, plant.

Cleaning contractor Callaghan and Callaghan, dba Cal-Clean, was hit with $179,000 in fines for 2 willful, 5 serious and 3 other-than-serious violations. The injured teen was employed by Cal-Clean.

The teen’s injury isn’t the only one that recently brought OSHA to Case’s door. A 24-year-old employee was cleaning a machine when operating parts amputated the tips of two of his fingers.

Case and Cal-Clean were both cited for exposing workers to amputation, fall, electrical and other serious hazards.

OSHA says while Case doesn’t supervise the sanitation contractor employees working at its facilities, the company is responsible for exposing Cal-Clean employees to operating parts of machinery because Case failed to install safety mechanisms. OSHA also cited Cal-Clean for failing to report the teen’s amputation to the agency within 24 hours as required.

Case was hit with significant OSHA fines twice earlier in 2015:

  • In August, OSHA issued 55 citations totaling $861,500; inspectors said workers were exposed to amputation, electrocution and fall hazards.
  • In June, OSHA issued $126,500 in fines, saying Case ignored an agreement to meet safety goals and correct hazards uncovered two years ago.

In 2013, Case agreed to address safety violations in a settlement agreement with OSHA. Case has contested all of the citations issued.

Add the June, August and these new fines together, and OSHA has issued $1,412,600 in penalties to Case so far in 2015.

And there may be more fines coming before the year ends.

Two other OSHA inspections remain open at Case Farms’ Canton facility:

  • In June, OSHA opened an investigation into deficiencies in the ammonia refrigeration system, and
  • In July, OSHA opened an investigation into allegations that poultry workers were experiencing symptoms of campylobacter infection, a foodborne illness.

OSHA previously placed Case in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

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