Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined Case Farms Processing (Case Farms) and Callaghan and Callaghan (Cal-Clean) for exposing workers to possible amputations, falls, electrical risks and other serious hazards. The companies’ failure to adhere to safety standards was so severe that it resulted in tragic injuries to two of its employees. OSHA’s inspections of Cal-Clean and Case Farms found that on April 7, 2015, a 17-year-old Cal-Clean worker suffered an accident resulting in the amputation of his lower-left leg while cleaning a liver-giblet chiller machine. Due to his injury, he could not return to work and Cal-Clean fired him shortly thereafter. OSHA also fined Cal-Clean for failing to report the amputation to OSHA within 24 hours after the accident. Dr. David Michaels, assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA stated:
A teenager’s life has been forever altered because of the devastating leg injury just weeks after starting his job. How many injuries will it take before Case Farms stops exposing workers to dangerous machinery parts? OSHA will continue to inspect, monitor and penalize this company until it makes necessary improvements. They need to protect their workers, and they need to do it now.
Similarly, two weeks prior, a 24-year-old Case Farms worker was cleaning a fat-sucker machine when the operating parts of a plunger severed his right middle and ring fingers. According to OSHA, Case farms failed to ensure that those machines were turned off during the cleaning process. Case Farms suspended the injured worker, firing him from his job shortly after. Consequently in August, OSHA placed Case Farms in the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, estimating $861,500 worth in penalties at Case Farm’s Ohio facility. Howard Eberts, OSHA’s area director in Cleveland stated:
In the past 25 years, Case Farms has done little to change a corporate culture where workers are endangered despite repeated OSHA inspections and commitments from the company to fix its safety and health programs.
OSHA was created to enforce the Occupational Safety and Health Act by enforcing workplace safety and health standards which protect employees from being seriously injured or killed on the job. Under the OSHA Act, workers are entitled to working conditions that do not place them under risk for serious harm. Workers have the right to request OSHA to inspect their workplace, to exercise their rights without experiencing retaliation and discrimination, review records of past work-related injuries and illnesses and request information and training about hazards.
If you feel you are working under hazardous conditions or feel you have been retaliated or discriminated against for reporting dangerous conditions in your workplace, please contact The Harman Firm, LLP.