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OSHA penalizes Ole for numerous hazards

The Occupational and Safety Health Administration recently announced fines against Ole Mexican Foods, Inc. for unsafe work conditions at their Georgia plant located just outside Atlanta. The fines total $151,030 and were initiated by a June inspection in which officials found a total of 20 safety violations. Two of those violations were repeat offenses, 14 were serious and four were other-than-serious. An OSHA official said Ole had been previously warned that some of the hazards could lead to a serious work-related injury and had not taken the necessary steps to correct them.

Ole was fined $77,000 for the two repeat violations. Those violations included a failure to ensure that employees who serviced and maintained equipment understood the energy control program and also for amputation and caught-in hazards on production equipment. The company was previously cited for these violations in 2011. A repeat violation is defined as any violation that is cited more than once within a five year period.

The company was fined $73,030 for the serious violations, which included numerous citations. A serious violation is one that is considered likely to cause death or serious injury from a hazard that the employer knew about or should have known about. Additionally, OSHA fined Ole $1,100 for the four other-than-serious violations, which are defined as hazards that contribute to employee safety, but would be unlikely to cause serious harm or death.

OSHA works to regulate employee safety and health in the workplace. The inspection that led to these fines was generated by an employee complaint about the facility's health and safety conditions. Employees who feel their employer does not maintain a safe work environment can contact OSHA via phone to register a complaint. While OSHA inspections and fines are designed to ensure safety, employers still don't always comply with the law. If necessary, a worker could consult with an attorney to discuss other legal routes to pursue compensation for damages caused by an unhealthy or unsafe workplace.

Source: OSHA, "OlĂ© Mexican Foods cited for more than $150,000 by US Labor Department's OSHA for exposing workers to amputation and other hazards", Michael D'Aquino, December 16, 2013

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