Case Farms, an Ohio-based chicken supplier in Canton and Winesburg, faced hefty fines last year for separate and major incidents within two months. Case Farms was fined $1.4 million following the Occupational Health and Services Administration (OSHA) investigations.
OSHA investigations began after two employees sustained injuries involving amputations on two separate occasions inside a two-month gap, in addition to two other open investigations.
How Did Case Farms Fail to Protect Workers?
In addition to exposing workers with foodborne illnesses, two workers’ lives will never be the same. A 17-year-old boy, who was assigned to work at case farms by his sanitation subcontractor, sustained an amputation injury while cleaning a liver-giblet chiller machine. The boy lost his leg from the knee down. Though OSHA admitted in a press release Case Farms is not the supervisor for sanitation employees, it did blame Case Farms for not installing safety mechanisms on the machines.
Not two months later, a 24-year-old employee was cleaning parts of a plunger on a fat sucking machine. The machine was still operating and the worker lost his middle and ring fingers. What’s worse is both of these workers were fired from their jobs soon after the incidents.
OSHA additionally had an ongoing investigation from earlier that year when employees were experiencing symptoms of campylobacter infection, a foodborne illness. The bacteria can cause abdominal pain, fever, vomiting and other painful symptoms. Just a few months prior, OSHA opened an investigation into the facility’s ammonia refrigeration system.
In August of last year, OSHA cited Case Farms for a total of two willful violations, 20 repeat violations and 30 serious safety violations. The investigations into the safety standards (or lack thereof) that caused worker amputations ended with OSHA issuing an additional two willful violation citations, 10 repeat citations and four serious safety violations. The total number of citations Case Farms received in four months is:
4 willful violation citations
30 repeat violation citations
34 serious safety violations
Case Farms Needs to Put Workers First
The chicken supplier processes approximately 900 million pounds of poultry products every year and has 3,200 workers it puts at risk. Case Farms exposes its workers to amputation hazards, fall hazards and electrical safety hazards. The company does not provide protective equipment to its workers, nor does it safely store oxygen cylinders, putting anyone in the vicinity at risk. The number of serious safety violations and repeat violations are unacceptable. $1.4 million is nothing compared to the untold damage the company has done to the employees injured due to accidents the company could have prevented.
Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC is a personal injury firm that helps victims of workplace accidents in the Zanesville, Columbus, Newark, Shadyside areas of Ohio.