OSHA cited four successor companies to the former Decoster Egg Farm of Turner, Maine, -- Maine Ag, Maine Contract Farming, PFS Loading Services, and Turner Maintenance & Services, all of Turner -- for various health and safety violations.
The proposed combined penalties facing the companies is $125,600.
According to C. William Freeman, OSHA area director for Maine, the alleged violations were discovered during follow-up inspections initiated June 12, 2000, to determine the companies'' compliance with earlier settlement agreements and correction of hazards cited in earlier inspections.
"While the overall number of citations has declined from previous inspections, these latest inspections still identified several instances where significant safety and health problems reoccurred," said Freeman. "The most serious of these include structurally unsound or unsupported roof rafters and elevated catwalks in outbuildings, failure to ensure that employees knew how to properly clean and disinfect respirators, allowing an employee to use torn gloves while removing chicken carcasses, having employees consume food in unsanitary locations, the use of defective cranes and trucks, contaminated and defective eyewash facilities and unprotected propane fuel tanks."
"Though progress has been made, such backsliding is indefensible," continued Freeman. "These companies must intensify and improve upon their previously stated commitment to provide a safe and healthful work environment."
On June 12, 1996, OSHA cited Decoster Egg Farms, the world''s largest producer of brown eggs, for numerous egregious safety and health violations at its Turner, Maine, egg farm and proposed $3.6 million in fines.
In May 1997, Decoster Egg Farms entered into a comprehensive settlement agreement which required correction of all cited hazards, development of a comprehensive safety and health program, procurement of a safety director, an independent audit and payment of a $2 million fine.
In September 1997, A.J. ''Jack'' Decoster contracted with four new companies, owned by former Decoster Egg Farm employees, to raise chickens, transport eggs, market eggs and service equipment.
OSHA inspections conducted between November 1998 and June 1999, resulted in the companies being cited for a total of 78 violations for which they paid $224,625 in fines.
by Virginia Sutcliffe