UPDATE: Company comments on OSHA report
HARBESON, DELAWARE (6/23/2015) Allen Harim Foods is facing a $38,000 fine for worker safety violations at its Harbeson poultry processing plant that government inspectors say were causing or could cause serious injuries.
Employees cutting chicken fat, bone and cartilage for eight hours a day are required to use excessive force and exertion, repetitive motions and awkward postures without controls in place to prevent injuries, according to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The company issued a statement saying, “Allen Harim takes worker safety issues very seriously and we work diligently every day to provide the safest possible environment for all our employees. We will be discussing these issues with OSHA over the coming weeks and continue to monitor best practices to ensure our workers are among the safest in the industry.”
The ergonomic hazards, the OSHA report says, put the workers at risk for musculoskeletal injuries including tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger thumb and shoulder pain.
“These types of injuries can be prevented by implementing appropriate engineering and administrative controls in the workplace, and when they occur, they must be treated early with appropriate medical care to prevent the illness from progressing,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.
OSHA inspected the plant in December and issued its report June 15, citing the company for six “serious” violations and three “other than serious.”
The company has until July 2 to contest the report or take corrective action and pay the fines.
The “serious” citations included failing to designate emergency exits properly, make lavatories available for over 40 minutes, document energy control procedures and ensure employees received training related to machinery that could unexpectedly start up during service and maintenance. The “other than serious” citations included documentation irregularities.
“The combination of musculoskeletal disorder hazards, lack of proper medical treatment for musculoskeletal disorders and under-reporting of injuries at this plant must be addressed by the company,” said Erin Patterson, director of OSHA’s Wilmington office. “Workers should not have to work in pain, especially when these injuries are preventable.”
Headquartered in Seaford, Allen Harim Foods has a total of 1,600 employees, with 960 at the Harbeson plant.The company also operates a poultry-processing plant in Cordova, Maryland; breeding operations in Liberty, North Carolina; and hatcheries and a feed mill in Dagsboro and Seaford.