Egg processor agrees to fines, improvements

A large egg processor in Ohio has agreed to pay $425,000 fines and to make several significant safety improvements at its work sites, following charges from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

After inspecting the AgriGeneral Company’s facility in Croton, OH, OSHA cited the company on Aug. 18, 1997, for willful violations of the general duty clause and temporary labor camp standards, along with serious violations of the standards on bloodborne pathogens, confined spaces, hazard communications, and agricultural equipment standards. The proposed penalties initially totaled $1.07 million. The 7,000-acre Croton facility, now operating as Buckeye Egg Farm, employs 365 workers in producing, processing, and distributing about 4.5 million eggs daily from almost 10 million chickens. A similar facility in nearby Mount Victory was not included in the original inspection but will be included in the promised safety improvements.

The violations involved overexposing employees to ammonia and organic dust, including failure to have an effective respirator program, machine guarding deficiencies, fall hazards, bloodborne pathogens, and confined space hazards. The company has agreed to correct those deficiencies and also to conduct semi-annual safety and health inspections through December 2000. Extensive employee education programs are part of the agreement, along with an improved respirator program and a commitment to provide migrant workers with safe drinking water.