Allen Harim Harbeson plant workers exposed to serious hazards

HARBESON – Workers cutting chicken fat, bone and cartilage eight hours a day at a Delaware poultry plant are suffering musculoskeletal injuries caused by their jobs, an inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found.

Following the inspection at Allen Harim Foods’ Harbeson plant, OSHA cited the company for exposing employees on the debone line to musculoskeletal disorder hazards.

The agency determined that workers performed prolonged, repetitive and forceful tasks without controls in place to prevent injuries.

“Musculoskeletal injuries caused by these hazards in poultry plants are too common,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “These types of injuries can be prevented by implementing appropriate engineering and administrative controls in the workplace, and when they occur, they must be treated early with appropriate medical care to prevent the illness from progressing.”

In addition to the serious citation for the company’s failure to address the musculoskeletal disorder hazards, OSHA issued serious citations for failing to designate emergency exits properly and to ensure employees received training related to machinery that could unexpectedly start up during service and maintenance.

OSHA cited Allen Harim Foods for a total of nine violations.

Proposed penalties total $38,000.

“The combination of musculoskeletal disorder hazards, lack of proper medical treatment for musculoskeletal disorders and underreporting of injuries at this plant must be addressed by the company,” said Erin Patterson, director of OSHA’s Wilmington office. “Workers should not have to work in pain, especially when these injuries are preventable.”

Headquartered in Seaford, Allen Harim Foods has a total of 1,600 employees, with 960 workers at the Harbeson plant. In addition to the Harbeson facility, the company operates a poultry-processing plant in Cordova, Maryland; breeding operations in Liberty, North Carolina; and hatcheries and a feed mill in Dagsboro and Seaford.

View the citations at:  https://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/AllenHarimFoodsLLC_1014956_06152015.pdf.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Wilmington Area Office at 302-573-6518.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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