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Pilgrim's Pride Fined over Safety Following Death of Worker

19 April 2013

US – Poultry processor Pilgrim’s Pride, part of the giant JBS group, is to be fined more than $58,000 for breaches of safety following the death of a worker.

The worker became caught in an unguarded hopper while attempting to remove a piece of cardboard at the company's plant in Canton

The US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration Atlanta-East Area Office initiated its inspection in October 2012 in response to the fatality.

The company has been charged with two repeat safety violations for failing to include the process needed for the removal of locks and start-up following lockout/tagout.

The electrical cords also did not have an effective strain relief device.

The company was charged with similar violations following a 2011 inspection.

Four serious safety violations involve the employer failing to conduct annual periodic inspections of the energy control procedures since 2005 and not providing effective machine and equipment guarding, so that workers cannot enter areas of operation and be exposed to struck-by and caught-in hazards.

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Two other-than-serious violations involve failing to consider safety and health standards for the refrigeration process and not including safety systems and their functions in the refrigeration operating procedures.

"Establishing safety and health programs that identify and remove hazards before a worker gets injured or sick goes to the very core of providing a safe and healthful workplace," said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office.

"In this case, a tragic loss resulted from equipment that could easily have been guarded."

The citations for the repeat and serious violations carry $58,755 in proposed penalties. No monetary penalties have been assessed for the other-than-serious violations.

Pilgrim's Pride Corp. employs approximately 38,500 workers with operations in 12 states, Mexico and Puerto Rico. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Atlanta-East area director or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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