Meat Processor Slapped with Fines for Repeat Violations at Chicago Plant

Three repeat health violations involve failing to mark chemical containers with their contents and hazardous warning labels, as well as to provide an emergency eyewash station for employees working with corrosive chemicals such as sodium hypochlorite and anhydrous ammonia.

OSHA has cited Anaheim, Calif.-based Bridgford Foods Corp. with 22 safety and health—including four repeat—violations at its Chicago meat processing 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.

Three repeat health violations involve failing to mark chemical containers with their contents and hazardous warning labels, as well as to provide an emergency eyewash station for employees working with corrosive chemicals such as sodium hypochlorite and anhydrous ammonia. One repeat safety violation is having an obstructed emergency exit. Similar safety violations were cited in 2010 and similar health violations were cited in 2008 and 2010 at the Chicago facility.

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.

"Bridgford Foods Processing has the responsibility to ensure that its employees are properly trained and protected from workplace hazards such as falls and chemical use," said Gary Anderson, OSHA's area director in Calumet City. "Employers cited for repeat violations demonstrate a lack of commitment to employee safety and health. OSHA is committed to protecting workers, especially when employers fail to do so."

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 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 in penalties were cited in October 2011 at the facility on South Good Latimer Expressway.

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