Poultry Processor Fined for Amputations

Thursday, October 1, 2015 @ 05:10 PM gHale

A supplier of fast food and supermarket chicken, Case Farms Processing Inc., is facing $424,600 in fines for 16 violations at the processor’s Canton, OH, facility after a series of amputation injuries including a teenager losing his leg, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The safety failures resulted in two serious injuries to workers while they cleaned machines. In one case, a 17-year-old worker, employed by cleaning subcontractor Cal-Clean had his left leg amputated from the knee down. In another incident, a 24-year-old Case Farms employee lost two fingertips. Both workers ended up fired after the incidents.

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OSHA cited Case Farms for two willful, 10 repeated, and four serious safety violations.

The agency also penalized Cal-Clean’s owner, Callaghan and Callaghan with $179,700 in fines on Sept. 28, for two willful, five serious and three other-than-serious safety violations. Both companies received citations for exposing workers to amputation, fall, electrical and other serious hazards.

In August, OSHA placed Case Farms in the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, after it assessed $861,500 in penalties after investigations at the company’s Winesburg, OH, facility.

“A teenager’s life has been forever altered because of a devastating leg injury just weeks after starting this job. How many injuries will it take before Case Farms stops exposing workers to dangerous machinery parts?” Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health said. “OSHA will continue to inspect, monitor and penalize this company until it makes necessary improvements. They need to protect their workers, and they need to do it now.”

The inspections that resulted in the September citations found:
• On March 25, a 24-year-old Case Farms employee was cleaning a fat sucker machine when the operating parts of a plunger amputated the fingertips of his right middle and ring fingers. The machine should not have been able to operate during the cleaning process. An employee for nearly a year and a half, the worker ended up suspended from his job for 10 days and subsequently fired.
• On April 7, a 17-year-old Callaghan and Callaghan (doing business as “Cal-Clean”) employee suffered the amputation of his left leg from the knee down when he was cleaning the liver-giblet chiller machine. The teen has been unable to return to work due to his injuries, and he ended up fired after the incident. Case Farms does not supervise the sanitation contractor employees working at it its facilities, but the company is responsible for exposing the Cal-Clean employee to operating parts of machinery because it failed to install safety mechanisms. OSHA also cited Cal-Clean for failing to report the amputation to the agency within 24 hours, as required.

“In the past 25 years, Case Farms has done little to change a corporate culture where workers are endangered despite repeated OSHA inspections and commitments from the company to fix its safety and health programs,” said Howard Eberts, OSHA’s area director in Cleveland. “Both Case Farms and Cal-Clean need to make safety a priority for employees who work at dangerous meat processing facilities.”

Headquartered in Troutman, NC, Case Farms 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. Its Ohio facilities are in Canton, Strasburg, Massillon and Winesburg. In North Carolina, Case Farms operates in Dudley, Goldsboro, Mount Olive and Morganton.

Callaghan and Callaghan is in Greensboro, NC, and has contracts to clean some of Case Farms’ facilities.