The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited a Pennsylvania facility with multiple safety violations after a six-month investigation, according to The New York Times. OSHA inspected a facility in Palmyra owned by Exel, a company that packages Hersey chocolates.
OSHA launched the investigation after employees alleged Exel had covered up worker injuries. The employees who complained to OSHA were student workers part of an international exchange program. OSHA discovered that Exel failed to report 42 serious injuries in a four year span—43% of all injuries. Many of the injuries required medical treatment. Hershey has been hiring foreign exchange students at their packing facilities for years, in its own facilities and subcontractors' as well.
“It was very clear to us that dozens of injuries had not been recorded,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor in charge of OSHA. “Exel understood exactly what the law was on reporting. They were aware of these other injuries; they just did not record them. It’s not just paperwork. It’s lives and limbs. The requirement to keep track of injuries is the basis for prevention of those injuries.”
Exel has no excuse for not reporting these incidents. The proposed penalty fines from OSHA total $283,000. It is particularly disturbing that Hershey has had these issues in the past with other subcontractors, and it may not be a coincidence. If you or another coworker is injured on the job, be sure that the incident is documented, even if it does not seem like a big deal at the time. It could end up saving a life in the future.
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