OSHA Investigations Leads to $148,500 in Penalties for Patrick Cudahy Inc.

Meat packing giant Patrick Cudahy Inc. is facing $148,500 in fines from OSHA following an inspection opened in May 2003 in response to reports of an industrial accident in which three employees were severely burned.

Three workers were reported to have been troubleshooting electrical switchgear at the Cudahy, Wis., facility when electricity arched and exploded. OSHA's investigation revealed that the three workers, all of whom received first, second and third degree burns throughout their bodies, were not using insulated tools, were not wearing proper personal protective equipment, and were not following appropriate safety standards. OSHA issued willful and serious violations to Cudahy for allegedly failing to provide such equipment, and warning or training the workers about flash hazards.

"The Labor Department's significant fine of $148,500 sends a message that this administration will enforce safety and health standards for workers," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao.

The company employs over 1,400 full-time workers at its Cudahy facility. OSHA's Milwaukee district manager, George Yoksas, said that the workplace safety and health agency has conducted 28 inspections at the facility since 1972, issuing a total of three willful, 16 serious and one repeat citation.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to appeal before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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