By Michael S. Hoey


Representatives of the Birdseye Foods plant in Darien met with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Dec. 18 to respond to two citations OSHA issued to the plant by in early December for one repeat offense and 12 new safety violations.

Scott Allen, regional director of public affairs for the Department of Labor, said Birds Eye, a subsidiary of Pinnacle Foods, entered into an informal settlement agreement on most of the violations but filed a notice of contest on three of them.

The violations Birds Eye agreed to the settlement on included slip, trip and fall hazards; unclean or unsanitary conditions; substandard railings; open flames and smoking being allowed in flammable liquid storage areas; failure to provide proper protective equipment; failure to ensure the distance between an abrasive wheel and an adjustable tongue guard did not exceed one-fourth inch on several grinders; substandard mechanical ventilation; a lack of proper markings denoting voltage, current, wattage or other ratings on equipment; inadequate sampling of employees for chromium exposure; and failure to ensure that employees could demonstrate knowledge of chromium exposure.

The fines for those violations added up to $56,900 and were reduced to $32,050 as a result of the settlement.

Birdseye contested two of the new violations – failure to de-energize live parts employees were exposed to and allowing employees to work in areas with potential electrical hazards without electrical protective equipment. These violations resulted in fines of $7,000 each.

Birds Eye also contested the repeat offense – failing to install fixed stairs to access elevations with tools and equipment, which exposed workers to fall hazards. OSHA inspectors found the same violation during an inspection in June 2013. The violation carries a fine of $38,500.

In total, Birds Eye faced fines in the amount of $109,400 and had that amount reduced by $24,850 as a result of the meeting with OSHA on Dec. 18. Allen said the contested violations with fines totaling the remaining $84,550 will be forwarded to an independent safety review board, which could take up to a year to make a ruling.

Allen did not have information on the arguments Birds Eye used in the settlement process or why OSHA was willing to reduce the fines. Representatives of Birds Eye had no comment.


1 Comment

  1. Dennis Parr says:

    I hope they’ve done something about allowing employees to work with a cold without having at least a pollen mask on to prevent them from sneezing into food as it passes by or allow mucus discharge to drip into food as it passes by. This is SOP there if you talk to current or past employees. And contesting getting fined for something you didn’t fix from a previous inspection. Just like the slip/trip/fall problem, unit an employee gets seriously injured they won’t fix it. OSHA is supposed to protect workers. Not allow companies to keep getting away with it.

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