Dangerous workplace in Taunton leads to death, OSHA citation

Federal safety regulations require that a company not only create and maintain safe working environments, but properly train their workers in order to function safely in potentially hazardous conditions. When employers fail to uphold this, a dangerous workplace is created where workers risk serious injury, or even death. Such was unfortunately the case recently in one Taunton, Massachusetts, factory.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a citation to Taunton-based Tribe Mediterranean Foods Inc. after an investigation into the death of one of its workers. The death occurred when the worker was cleaning one of the machines in the plant and was pulled into it. It is said that this worker, as well as several others, was not properly trained on how to safely clean the machines.

OSHA discovered nearly 20 safety violations, including the failure to administer appropriate employee training, throughout their investigation. Other violations included failure to conduct inspections of cleaning procedures and having exposed parts on certain machinery in the plant. OSHA claims that the company has willfully and repeatedly committed these violations.

As a result, the company has been placed on a Severe Violator Enforcement Program, a program that will mandate follow-up inspections to ensure the company is taking steps to improve safety conditions, and will face over $700,000 in fines for the dangerous workplace environment. The company will have 15 days to contest the findings of the OSHA investigation. Additionally, the company may face a workers' compensation claim should the family of the victim attempt to seek damages for the accident.

Source: Boston Globe, "Mass. food plant cited by OSHA after worker death," June 25, 2012

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