chickenprocessing_406x250The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited an Ohio poultry processing facility operated by Case Farms Processing Inc. for two willful, 20 repeat, 30 serious, and three other-than-serious safety and health violations. The country’s 13th-largest supplier of chicken, whose customers include national fast-food and supermarket brands, faces $861,500 in fines and was added to the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. OSHA’s February 2015 inspection found amputation hazards, a lack of personal protective equipment, numerous violations of electrical safety standards, improperly stored oxygen cylinders, a lack of emergency eye-wash stations, and fall hazards due to non-functioning fall-arrest systems, unprotected platforms and wet work surfaces. “Case Farms is an outrageously dangerous place to work,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and Health. “In the past 25 years, Case Farms has been cited for more than 350 safety and health violations. Despite committing to OSHA that it would eliminate serious hazards, Case Farms continues to endanger the safety and health of its workers. This simply must stop.” Case Farms responded that it would not be appropriate “to comment on ongoing administrative matters,” but company officials made it clear that it does not agree with OSHA “on the negative characterizations that have been made about our companies and our employees.” According to OSHA, Case Farms has an extensive history of health and safety violations. Since 1988, OSHA and the Occupational Safety and Health Division of North Carolina’s Department of Labor have inspected the company 66 times at its facilities in North Carolina and Ohio, with citations issued in 42 of those inspections. A majority of the inspections were initiated after worker injuries, complaints or referrals. In 2013, the company agreed to address safety violations in a settlement agreement with OSHA after being cited for exposing workers to dangerous machinery and other hazards at its Winesburg facility. However, follow-up inspections led to the issuance of citations on May 28, 2015, addressing failure to make sure that machines had safety guards to protect workers and allowing electrical hazards. Case Farms has contested those citations. In addition, OSHA is currently investigating Case Farms facilities in Canton, OH, after receiving reports of employee injuries there. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Founded in 1986, Case Farms processes 2.8 million chickens a week. It employs 3,200 people in North Carolina and Ohio, producing more than 900 million pounds of fresh, partially cooked and frozen-for-export poultry each year. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

  • Robert E Wood

    How can we boycott this stuff if we don’t know the supermarket chains that buy it ??

    Please name the chains that buy this stuff so we can both help ourselves AND those poor workers

  • Keith Pritchard

    Matter of economics. This work of processing chickens is destined to go to China would be my guess. When cost of regulations exceeds economic viability then something has to give. OSHA never gives, they just drive production out of the US. I suspect these workers would rather have jobs than worry about hazards that are manageable to people that are responsible. As soon as someone picks up a knife there is amputation hazard. Many regulations are screwy, derived from really freak happenings. A lot of machine guards are removed by workers as they are a hindrance in all sorts of ways. Impossible to eliminate all hazards, every restriction costs in money, time, aggravation (because machines don’t work properly with guards, often the guards make it more of a hazard in the long run), productivity. Most of these government inspectors it is about job justification rather than any real issue. I rarely believe any report I ever see anymore as only one view is primarily reported, not the other 3 that may exist.