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Meat plant facing OSHA fines after workplace injury

Companies here in North Carolina are both legally and morally responsible for the safety of their employees. Failure to protect those who work for them is unconscionable, but safety violations still occur all too frequently. Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Labor has the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to outline and enforce safety procedures to keep each employee free from harm and avoid a workplace injury. OSHA recently investigated an accident at a meat plant that resulted in a chemical burn injury to an employee.

An out-of-state beef processing plant was hit with several violations relating to process safety management. OSHA found that an employee was exposed to anhydrous ammonia, which is a gas that is often used as a refrigerant. The employee in question experienced severe burns as a result. OSHA has levied penalties for 16 serious safety violations, totaling over $180,000.

The plant has 15 business days to either comply with OSHA's findings, ask for a conference with the area director or challenge the findings. OSHA says the company has many program deficiencies, failed to guard roof openings and has electrical safety violations. Employers are normally required to manage any hazards that relate to the handling of hazardous chemicals to a certain standard outlined in process safety management.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires employers to provide a safe and healthful workplace for employees. Failure to do so can result in injury or even fatality to an employee. Anyone in North Carolina who has suffered a workplace injury may be entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits. Family members of an employee who killed in a workplace accident are also eligible for these benefits. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can advise anyone with questions as to their exact rights.

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