US DOL's OSHA Cites Bridgford Food Processing After Two Workers Injured At Chicago Meat Processing Facility


CHICAGO, IL ( -  The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Anaheim, Calif.-based Bridgford Food Processing Corp. with four safety – including willful and repeat – violations – at the company's Chicago meat processing facility after a worker suffered amputations of two fingers on Feb. 7 while operating a vacuum packaging machine. A second worker had been injured operating the same machine on Jan. 25, and suffered deep lacerations and tendon damage on four fingers. Proposed fines total $184,000 following an inspection that was opened following the incidents.

"Bridgford Food Processing previously was cited for improper lockout procedures and machine guarding. Repeat violations demonstrate a blatant disregard for employee safety and health," said Gary Anderson, OSHA's area director in Calumet City. "Machinery in the food processing industry is inherently dangerous, and the company has an obligation to take necessary precautions to prevent injuries."

OSHA found that workers used magnets and other tools to override guarding interlock systems on machines. One willful violation stems from not affixing lockout/tagout devices to all energy sources and preventing workers from coming into contact with machines' points of operation. OSHA deemed this violation willful because, despite the company's history of injuries caused by lockout failures, Bridgford had taken few precautionary measures to prevent similar incidents at the facility. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Two repeat violations involve failing to develop and train employees in machine-specific lockout/tagout procedures. 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. Similar violations were cited by OSHA following a July 2010 inspection at the same facility.

Finally, one serious violation involves improperly guarding machines. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Bridgford Food Processing Corp., a manufacturer of various processed and frozen foods, employs about 140 workers at its Chicago meat processing location and 535 companywide, with two other facilities in Dallas, Texas, and one in Statesville, N.C. This inspection is OSHA's ninth of the Chicago facility since 2007.

Bridgford Food Processing was placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program after being cited for willful and repeat safety violations based on the July 2010 inspection at the Chicago plant. Those violations involved exposing workers to energized equipment by failing to implement and provide training on lockout/tagout procedures. OSHA has conducted follow-up inspections at both the Chicago and Dallas facilities under the program, which mandates follow-up inspections of recalcitrant employers that have endangered workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.

Since the company was placed in the program, OSHA has cited additional violations at several facilities. Citations carrying $118,700 in penalties were issued in March 2012 for 22 safety and health violations at the Chicago facility, citations carrying $174,500 in penalties were issued in February 2012 for eight safety violations at the facility on Chancellor Row in Dallas, and citations carrying $422,600 in penalties were issued in October 2011 for 27 safety and health violations at the facility on South Good Latimer Expressway in Dallas. The company is contesting all of these citations.

Bridgford Food Processing has 15 business days from receipt of its current citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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