The safety and health violations the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has levelled at meat processor Acadian Fine Foods include 14 serious charges, one wilful, and one repeat violation. The reported violations include failing to protect workers from carbon dioxide (CO2), hazardous machinery, and other hazards.
The charges come after an inspection in December 2013 alerted the agency to possible violations at the Louisiana-based meat processing facility.
Dorinda Folze, OSHA representative, said in a statement the plant exposed plant staff to CO2 levels at least four times the acceptable limit. She added Acadian Fine Foods is responsible for determining the cause of the CO2 levels and correct the problem.
"This glaring neglect of worker health and safety will not be tolerated," she said "OSHA's safety and health standards must be followed to prevent worker injuries and fatalities.”
OSHA inspectors originally visited the plant in November 2013, citing Acadian Fine Foods for four serious violations (including electrical dangers and unsafe forklift operation), which carried a $15,400 penalty. The December 2013 inspection reportedly came after a call alerted OSHA officials to the CO2 levels.
The 14 serious violations (with potential fines totalling $72,380), include failing to guard moving machine parts; conduct annual inspections of lockout/tagout procedures, which protect workers who maintain and service machines from the machine's moving parts; properly identify respiratory hazards at the plant; and other issues. Serious violations indicate death or serious harm could occur from a hazard the employer was, or should have been, aware of.
One willful citation (with a penalty of $38,500) was issued for exposing workers to life-threatening CO2 levels. According to OSHA, a willful violation is an offense committed with intentional, knowing disregard for safety regulations, or indifference to workers’ well-being.
The repeat violation (carrying a penalty of $10,780), was for failing to ensure an electrical panel was properly enclosed to protect workers from live electrical wires. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years (Acadian Fine Foods had been warned in April 2012).
Acadian Fine Foods could not be reached for comment. FoodProductionDaily will provide updates on the situation as soon as additional information is available.