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December 04, 2023
Ohio meat processor facing $278K in OSHA fines

Blue Ash, Ohio-based meat processor Sugar Creek Packing Co. faces $277,904 in proposed Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines after a worker fell into corrosive chemicals and suffered injuries that included severe leg burns and the degloving of their foot (the loss of skin and soft tissue), the agency announced November 29.

Agency inspectors determined that the Ohio meat processing plant’s safety failures exposed employees to hazardous conditions. OSHA cited Sugar Creek Packing for two repeat and six serious violations and one other-than-serious violation.

A Sugar Creek employee was changing bearings on a fan motor when they fell into a tree hangar machine used to sanitize and clean hanging meat racks at the company’s Washington Court House, Ohio, plant.

OSHA found that Sugar Creek lacked required energy control procedures, commonly known as lockout/tagout. Last month, the agency reported that its lockout/tagout standard (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1910.147) was its sixth most frequently cited standard. OSHA cited 2,554 lockout/tagout violations in fiscal year (FY) 2023, which ended September 30.

The company also failed to make sure employees wore chemically resistant clothing and were trained to perform servicing and maintenance activities on the plant’s tree wash, belly press, and drench cabinet, according to OSHA. Proper clothing, procedures, and training would have protected workers from contact with hazardous chemicals and machine parts.  

Sugar Creek has a history dating back to 2014 of workplace injuries and violating federal safety regulations, according to OSHA. The agency cited Sugar Creek Packing in 2019 and 2022 for hazards similar to those found in a May 2023 inspection at the company’s Washington Court House and Fairfield, Ohio, facilities.

OSHA inspectors specifically found that the Washington Court House plant failed to do the following:

  • Protect employees from falling into dangerous equipment. 
  • Provide chemical-resistant personal protective equipment and eye protection and require its use.
  • Require that a hazard assessment be performed before repairing a machine.
  • Follow required lockout procedures, and periodically review them for effectiveness.
  • Train employees on protective measures and avoiding chemical hazards.
  • Properly label chemical containers, and provide an eye-drenching station.

“Despite multiple employee injuries and repeated OSHA citations, Sugar Creek Packing Co. continues to ignore federal regulations and industry-recognized safety requirements to protect employees from harm, including amputation and other hazards,” Ken Montgomery, OSHA’s Cincinnati area office director, said in an agency statement. “The company’s recent workplace safety failures allowed an employee to suffer painful and preventable injuries. Sugar Creek must end its indifference toward worker safety immediately before another tragedy occurs.”

Sugar Creek Packing, founded in 1966, processes meat products for some of the largest and best-known food brands in the United States and abroad, according to OSHA. The company employs more than 2,000 people at 6 manufacturing facilities in Blue Ash, Dayton, Fairfield, and Hamilton, Ohio; Cambridge City, Indiana; and Frontenac, Kansas.

OSHA’s Region 5 office has a local emphasis program (LEP) of inspection and outreach for the food manufacturing industry in Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

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