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Seafood processor cited after worker’s death

By Joe Whitworth+

11-Jun-2014

Sea Watch International has been cited for seven serious safety violations after a worker died at its New Bedford plant.

The US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed fines against the fish processor of $35,410 following the incident in January this year.

The 35-year-old sanitation supervisor died after being caught in the rotating parts of the shucking machine he was cleaning.

Sea Watch International was cited for failing to implement lockout/tagout procedures that protect workers who clean machinery.

Failure to provide lockout device

Violations include failure to provide a lockout device; incomplete lockout/tagout procedures; not conducting periodic inspections of these procedures to ensure that all requirements were being met; and failure to train all affected sanitation employees in lockout/tagout procedures.

OSHA found that plant employees were exposed to fall hazards and were not trained in up-to-date chemical hazard communication methods.

"This death was preventable if the company had implemented the required safety practices," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director for southeastern Massachusetts.

"It is the employer's responsibility to ensure that all requirements are met and to take effective action to ensure that these hazards, and the dangers they pose to workers, do not occur again."

Sea Watch employs 15 full-time workers at its New Bedford plant; 185 of the workers at the plant were temporary employees supplied by Workforce Unlimited.

Temporary workers

OSHA also cited Workforce Unlimited Inc., the temporary employment company that supplied workers to the plant, for three serious violations for lack of lockout/tagout procedures, lack of chemical hazard communication training and for exposing workers to ladder hazards.

Workforce Unlimited was cited with $9,000 fines as a joint employer because it had a supervisor on-site with knowledge of the working conditions.

OSHA launched a program last year where inspectors determine if temporary staff at a work site have received the safety training and protections required by law for the job. If not, the employment agency and host employer may be cited for violations.

Robert B. Hooper, OSHA's acting regional administrator for New England, said host employers need to treat temporary workers as they treat existing employees.

“Temporary staffing agencies and host employers share joint responsibility for temporary employees' safety and health.

“It is essential that both employers and staffing agencies comply with all relevant OSHA requirements.”

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