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OSHA Levels Serious Fines on Massachusetts Food Plant

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, has cited a food plant in Taunton, Massachusetts, with almost 20 violations,totaling over $700,000 in fines, according to an Associated Press story.

The OSHA inspection followed the death of a plant worker last December. The worker was killed when he was pulled into the machine he was cleaning. According to OSHA, the Tribe Mediterranean Foods, Inc. plant failed to properly train the employee who was fatally injured, as well as six other employees, on hazardous injury control procedures. Those procedures are intended to be used to shut down dangerous machines when they require maintenance or need to be cleaned.

The plant was also cited for failing to conduct periodic inspections related to the procedures, as well as for having an exposed chain and sprocket on a conveyor at the plant. The company has been placed on the Severe Violator Program as a result of the inspection, which means that specific follow-up inspections will be conducted to ensure that the violations have been addressed.

Workplace Machinery Accidents

Far too many workers suffer workplace injuries each year in Massachusetts as a result of machinery-related accidents. Factory workers, in particular, are at risk for injuries caused by unsafe machinery or inadequate safety procedures related to machinery. Common workplace accidents involving machinery can include:

  • Limbs becoming trapped in equipment when proper safeguards are not in place
  • Cuts or injuries from loose or malfunctioning equipment
  • Electrical shock or burns
  • Toxic fume exposure when confined to small spaces
  • Burns or scalding from hot machinery
  • Damage to eyes or skin from laser  equipment
  • Injury from repeated vibration caused by equipment.

These are only some of the more common injuries that a factory worker, or an employee who works around machinery, may suffer. Because machinery used to mass produce products is often complex and dangerous, anyone whose workplace includes machinery should head all safety warnings and take proper precautions at all times.

Who Is Responsible When a Worker Is Injured?

Unlike other types of injury accidents, a workplace injury accident does not typically require you to prove that your employer did anything wrong in order for you to be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Under the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system, if you are an eligible employee and you were injured during the scope of your employment, then you should be entitled to medical and wage replacement benefits. The workers’ compensation system will pay for treatment of your injuries if your claim is approved. In addition, you will receive wage replacement benefits for the time that your injuries prevent you from working.

The Role of OSHA

OSHA is the federal agency responsible for overseeing workplace safety. OSHA may conduct scheduled inspections, may show up for surprise inspections, or may decide to inspect a workplace pursuant to a complaint about safety violations. An OSHA violation is not necessary for you to be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. In fact, your employer could have an excellent safety record and you could still be injured on the job. If, however, your employer has a poor safety record with OSHA, it could increase the likelihood that you will be injured on the job. If you feel that your employer is violating any of the OSHA regulations, you can file a complaint with OSHA and ask for your workplace to be inspected. By insisting on a safer workplace, you will decrease the chance of being injured for you and for your co-workers.

If you have been injured on the job in Massachusetts and feel you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney is always a good idea. Contact the Massachusetts workplace injury lawyers at Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C., if you need assistance with filing a claim or appealing a denial by calling 800-367-0871 or by using our online contact form.