OSHA cites Massachusetts food plant after worker’s death

How much responsibility does a Massachusetts employer have to safeguard employees from dangers on the job? Federal safety regulations require companies to create and monitor safe work environments. Employees also must be trained to deal with hazardous conditions like dangerous machinery or toxic chemical exposure.

A workplace accident can happen when businesses fail to meet safety standards. Sometimes company owners purposely ignore safety rules or repeat unsafe practices, even after becoming aware that a hazard exists. These willful acts are the most severe violations, according to federal laws regulated by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In December, a 28-year-old worker was killed in an accident at Tribe Mediterranean Foods in Taunton. The employee died as he was cleaning a machine and got pulled into it. OSHA placed Tribe Mediterranean on its Severe Violator Enforcement list after 20 safety violations were discovered at the food plant.

An inspection by the federal safety watchdog discovered that plant employees were not trained on procedures that might have saved the worker’s life. The victim and six other employees did not know how to use hazardous energy controls to ensure safe and proper machine shutdowns.

Proposed fines against the Middle Eastern food manufacturer exceeded $700,000. As part of the OSHA program for the most serious offenders, Tribe Mediterranean will undergo rigorous follow-up inspections to make sure the company is in compliance with federal work safety laws.

Additionally, the company could potentially face a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of the worker who was killed.

Source: Boston Globe, “Mass. food plant cited by OSHA after worker death,” June 18, 2012