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Southern Hens Inc. in Mississippi cited by OSHA for 43 Violations Following Worker Fatality

March 18, 2013
A Mississippi poultry process plant not only is a hazardous place for chickens. OSHA says Southern Hens Inc. contained serious workplace safety and health violations that led to the death of a worker.

OSHA has cited Southern Hens Inc. with 43 safety and health violations following the death of a worker who slipped and fell into an unguarded screw conveyor while cleaning the conveyor at the company's Moselle facility. OSHA initiated the inspection Sept. 9, 2012, in response to the fatality.

The 37 alleged serious safety and health violations cited include ones directly related to the death of the worker, such as the failure to develop energy control procedures for augers, chillers, scalders, cookers and dumpers; failing to provide lockout/tagout training of energy sources to all affected workers; and a lack of machine guarding on several pieces of equipment and exposing workers to shock, struck-by, burn, crushing, tripping, falling, slipping and amputation hazards. The proposed penalty for all violations is $160,000.

“Employers cannot allow workers to be exposed to unguarded equipment or other workplace hazards,” said Clyde Payne, OSHA’s area director in Jackson, Miss. “It is imperative that management take immediate action to eliminate the hazards identified in this inspection before another worker is injured or killed.”

Other alleged serious violations issued by OSHA include failing to establish an audiometric testing program; protect propane tanks from vehicular traffic; provide personal protective equipment for employees; conduct monthly inspections of self-contained breathing apparatuses; evaluate hazards in the workplace to determine if any spaces were permit required confined spaces; identify mechanical hazards in the offal pits prior to employees entering; and provide training for employees entering offal pits. Other violations include obstructing exit routes and not having exit signs visible. 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.

Six alleged other-than-serious safety and health violations include failing to post the approved floor load capacity for the parts supply area above the maintenance office; post not-an-exit sign in the evisceration room and steam cook area; have cover plates on electrical boxes; allow a metal duplex receptacle and flexible cord to be used instead of permanent wiring; and not labeling containers of chlorinated sanitizer and refrigeration oil. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/southern-hens-inc_62087803_03072013.pdf.

The poultry processing plant has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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