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Meat Processor Fined for Hazardous Working Conditions

24 June 2014

US - Louisiana food processor Acadian Fine Foods has been fined more than $120,000 by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 16 safety and health violations.

The processor was cited for 14 serious, one wilful and one repeat violation, following a referral inspection that began in December 2013 at the Church Point processing plant.

The food processor faces $121,660 in proposed fines for failing to protect workers from overexposure to carbon dioxide, dangerous machines and other safety hazards.

"Acadian Fine Foods exposed employees to levels of carbon dioxide that were at least four times above the permissible exposure limit. This glaring neglect of worker health and safety will not be tolerated," said Dorinda Folse, OSHA's area director in Baton Rouge.

"OSHA's safety and health standards must be followed to prevent worker injuries and fatalities. It is the employer's responsibility to find and fix these hazards."

Originally, OSHA's Baton Rouge Area Office conducted a complaint inspection in November 2013, which resulted in Acadian being cited with four serious violations for electrical hazards and unsafe forklift operation.

That penalty, which the employer settled in May, was $15,400.

However, a health referral was made based on employees being exposed to unsafe levels of carbon dioxide, which resulted in the December 2013 inspection.

The 14 serious violations, with a fine of $72,380, include failing to guard moving machine parts; conduct annual inspections of lockout/tagout procedures, which protect workers who maintain and service machines from the machine's moving parts; properly identify respiratory hazards at the plant; include safety data sheets for carbon dioxide, sanitiser and boiler water treatment; and provide personal protective equipment.

With a penalty of $38,500, one wilful citation was issued for exposing workers to carbon dioxide levels deemed life threatening that were above the eight-hour time-weighted average of the permissible exposure limits.

The employer failed to implement proper controls to reduce the carbon dioxide levels in the plant and provide workers with adequate respiratory protection.

One repeat violation, with a penalty of $10,780, was cited for failing to ensure an electrical panel box was enclosed to eliminate worker exposure to live electrical wires. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. A similar violation was cited in the April 2012 inspection.

Acadian Fine Foods' Church Point food processing plant employs about 29 workers and has 15 working days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Baton Rouge, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

TheMeatSite News Desk

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