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Email Content: Poultry Industry News, Comments and more by Simon M. Shane

OSHA Stipulations Following Plant Injuries


Following injuries to workers at the Zwanenberg Food Group USA plant in Cincinnati and inspections by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Company was subjected to a $1.7 million fine and required to implement a safety program.


Zwanenberg Food Group USA is a subsidiary of the Zwanenberg Food Group in Holland that operates twelve production plants.  Zwanenberg processes hams, luncheon meats and pastas under the Southgate and private label brands.


As part of the Consent Agreement, the company will invest close to $2 million in safety improvements.  The list of required upgrades and procedural improvements serves as a to-do list for the entire industry with prevention obviously less expensive and more productive than having to record injuries. Serious cases involving hospitalization result in action by state and federal regulatory agencies, lawsuits and degradation of company image.  The Zwanenberg case is similar to other reported problem plants with deficiencies in equipment, training and the use of contract labor for cleaning and decontamination.


The list of requirements imposed by OSHA represents a blueprint to develop a safety culture and an acceptable working environment.


  • As a preliminary requirement, OSHA imposed an independent third-party audit of the facility and equipment including personal protective equipment, communication of hazards and specific reference to lockout and tagout procedures.
  • OSHA required the introduction of a health management system including a safety committee allowing workers to identify hazards and to work with management to resolve issues.
  • In view of the fact that injuries were in contract workers or newly employed personnel with inadequate training, OSHA has required the company to transition to permanent employees and to introduce an approved training program.
  •  All employees will be required to receive training on machine safety procedures with an emphasis on lockout and tagout procedures. 
  • With the aid of a competent, independent consultant, the company was required to develop a safety manual outlining procedures for operation, maintenance and cleaning of all equipment.  Mandatory safety training was required with appropriate records including “near-miss reporting”. 
  • All newly-hired employees will be required to undergo a safety and injury prevention program during orientation in addition to documented ongoing training,


The meat industry has experienced problems relating to use of contract labor for third shift cleaning.  Companies undertaking services have been subject to penalties for employing underage workers and failure to train these contract employees in lock out and tag out operations. Deficiencies including lack of training and supervision and the inherent inability of foreign workers to follow instructions in standard English have resulted in a wide range of injuries ranging from amputation of digits to death.


The requirements imposed on Zwanenberg by OSHA encompass the range of activities necessary to prevent injury and to promote a safe working environment.

Copyright © 2024 Simon M. Shane