Case Farms appeals OSHA violations

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Farm and Dairy file photo.

SALEM, Ohio — One of the largest chicken processing companies in northeast Ohio is contesting the latest round of worker safety citations.

Case Farms is contesting the Aug. 13 announcement, which resulted in $861,000 in fines and 55 violations against the company, according to a statement by Case Farms, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration spokesperson Scott Allen.

The case will now head to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, and will likely be heard by an administrative law judge, Allen said. In addition, Case Farms is contesting a May 28 investigation by OSHA, Allen said.

Related: Case Farms faces fines.

He declined to comment specifically on the Case Farms situation because it is pending legal review.

Hazardous environment

On Aug. 13, OSHA said the company’s processing plant exposes workers to the dangers of amputation, electrocution and hazardous falls.

“Case Farms is an outrageously dangerous place to work,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, in a released statement. “In the past 25 years, Case Farms has been cited for more than 350 safety and health violations.”

Amanda Frasca, public relations for the processing company, said in a released statement: “While we do not deem it appropriate to comment on ongoing administrative matters, we do not agree with the negative characterizations that have been made about our company and our employees. Further, we have filed a notice contesting these citations.”

Worker safety

She added, as of Aug. 19, the company’s Winesburg, Ohio, facility had passed the 900,000 employee hours worked milestone without a lost time injury. She said the company values its employees and is committed to providing a safe and healthy work environment.

“The citations are being reviewed and we will work with OSHA, as we have in the past, to address the concerns outlined in the citations,” according to the statement.

The Aug. 13 citations included two willful, 20 repeat, 30 serious and three other-than-serious safety and health violations.

In addition to the fines, OSHA added the company to the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which focuses on employers who have “demonstrated indifference to their OSH Act obligations by willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.”

Looking ahead

It’s unclear when the OSHA commission will hear the appeals. Allen said it could take up to a year.
Headquartered in Troutman, North Carolina, Case Farms Processing processes 2.8 million chickens per week at seven facilities in North Carolina and Ohio.

It has more than 3,200 employees and produces more than 900 million pounds of fresh, partially cooked and frozen-for-export poultry products yearly.

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