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Hazards abound at Chicago meatpacking company

March 30, 2012
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meatA Chicago meat processing company should be very familiar with some of the safety citations it recently received from OSHA; they've been penalized for committing the same violations in the past.

Bridgford Foods Corp. was issued repeat citations for failing to label containers containing hazardous chemicals, failing to provide emergency eyewash stations for employees working with corrosive chemicals and having an obstructed emergency exit.

Those three were among 22 citations issued to the Anaheim, California-based company for conditions found at its Chicago plant.

Proposed penalties total $118,700.

OSHA's Calumet City Area Office began an inspection Sept. 29 at the Chicago plant as part of the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates follow-up inspections of recalcitrant employers that have endangered workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Bridgford Foods was placed in the program after being cited for willful and repeat safety violations based on a July 2010 inspection at the Chicago plant for exposing workers to energized equipment by failing to implement and provide training on lockout/tagout procedures.

Nine serious safety violations involve a lack of guardrails on open pits, no hoist way enclosure on an elevator shaft, a lack of machine guarding, no handrails on staircases with six risers and a lack of emergency illumination, as well as electrical safety violations such as not enclosing live electrical equipment, missing electrical ground pins, not inspecting the power cords of damaged equipment and not covering unused circuit breakers.

Seven serious health violations include failing to conduct annual respirator fit tests and training, provide an emergency response plan and first responder awareness training, provide annual hazardous material technical-level training, conduct hazard assessments for employees exposed to eye and skin hazards, and use electrical equipment approved for a hazardous location.

One other-than serious safety violation is failing to have floor hole covers and one other-than-serious health violation is failing to have material safety data sheets for the chemical sodium hypochlorite.

This OSHA inspection was the fifth since 2007 of the Chicago facility, where about 150 workers are employed. Bridgford Foods Processing, which employs about 535 workers companywide, operates two facilities in Dallas, Texas, and one in Statesville, N.C.

OSHA also has conducted follow-up inspections at the Dallas facilities under the Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Eight safety violations carrying $174,500 in penalties were cited in February 2012 at the facility on Chancellor Row, and 27 safety and health violations carrying $422,600 were cited in October 2011 at the facility on South Good Latimer Expressway. For more information about the program, visit s.dol.gov/J3.

The citations can be viewed at: www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Bridgford-Food-Processing-Corp_107124_0328_12.pdf* and www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Bridgford-Food-Processing-Corp_107107_0328_12.pdf*.

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

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Calumet City office at 708-891-3800.

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