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June 20, 2024
Ohio pork processor facing 43 violations, $528K OSHA fine

J.H. Routh Packing Co., a Sandusky, Ohio, pork processing facility, faces an over half-million-dollar Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fine after exposing workers to a release of ammonia gas, the agency announced June 18. OSHA cited the company with 43 safety violations and proposed penalties of $528,441.

Agency investigators opened inspections at HK Cooperative Inc., operating as J.H. Routh Packing Co., after a local government agency notified OSHA that two workers suffered exposure to ammonia gas while maintaining a refrigeration system.

OSHA cited 40 serious, 1 repeat, and 2 other-than-serious violations. The company was cited with a repeat violation for exposing employees to amputation and other serious hazards due to inadequate point-of-operation guarding of a meat saw.

The agency cited the company with serious violations for hazards that included the following:

  • Lack of fall protection,
  • Noise exposure,
  • Inadequate permit-required confined space procedures,
  • Lack of an emergency eyewash/shower,
  • Lockout/tagout procedures for machines,
  • No hazard communication plans,
  • Electrical safety-related work practices,
  • Failure to mark all exits,
  • Unsafe electrical equipment and installations,
  • Lack of lockout devices,
  • Lack of personal protective equipment, and
  • Unsafe walking-working surfaces and stairways.

HK Cooperative’s previous OSHA citations include a serious violation for failing to protect employees from bloodborne pathogens, with a $13,828 penalty, which the employer is contesting. In November 2023, violations were issued for electrical hazards, machine guarding, and improperly maintained tools.

“Every day, people employed in food manufacturing operations face serious safety and health hazards,” Todd Jensen, OSHA’s Toledo, Ohio, area office director, said in an agency statement. “Unsafe exposure to ammonia in refrigeration can irritate the respiratory tract, eyes, and nasal passages. At high levels, ammonia exposure may even be fatal.”

“J.H. Routh Packing Co. and other Ohio food industry employers must review their procedures to continually protect workers from preventable injuries and allow them to end their work shifts safely.”

HK Cooperative Inc. slaughters hogs for pork product and animal feed production and employs about 372 workers in Sandusky, according to OSHA.

Texas pet products maker facing $278K OSHA fine

Doskocil Manufacturing Inc., an Arlington, Texas, pet products manufacturer and distributor operating as Petmate, is facing $278,851 in OSHA penalties after an employee suffered severe facial burns, the agency announced June 17.

OSHA investigators learned that three employees were using a pry bar to break off excess plastic, called “drool,” as they cleaned a structural foam machine when an injection nozzle dislodged, spraying molten plastic into a worker’s face. The employee suffered second- and third-degree burns.

Agency investigators cited the company for failing to do the following:

  • Isolate energy sources to protect workers from serious injuries.
  • Develop safety procedures for safe cleaning and maintenance of machinery.
  • Ensure walkways and working areas were free of slipping hazards to prevent slips and falls.
  • Provide eye protection for workers using structural foam machines.

“When proper safety processes and procedures are ignored, industrial workplaces can be dangerous and unforgiving for employees,” Timothy Minor, OSHA’s Fort Worth, Texas, area office director, said in a statement. “Petmate’s failures to comply with federal safety regulations exposed its employees to serious dangers, resulting in one worker suffering severe injuries.”

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