Worker's Death on Tractor Leads to Poultry Plant's $120,000 Fine

June 20, 2011

OSHA has cited Marshall Durbin Cos. in Hattiesburg, Miss., for 12 safety and health violations following the December 2010 death of a worker who was struck by a tractor trailer while filling potholes near the plant entrance. The fatality investigation led to a comprehensive inspection of the plant in January 2011. Proposed penalties for the citations total $120,000.

OSHA cited the company for one serious safety violation related to the fatality for exposing workers to struck-by hazards by not requiring them to wear high-visibility clothing and by not implementing traffic control measures. Four other serious safety violations include missing mid-rails from stair railings, not adequately illuminating exit routes, failing to have proper machine guarding, and not mounting electrical junction boxes to a structure. Additionally, three serious health violations were cited for allowing emergency responders wearing respirators to have beards, permitting unsanitary bathrooms and, failing to label hazardous chemicals.

The company also was cited for three repeat safety violations for exposing workers to unguarded rotating gear shaft ends, not labeling electric circuit breaker panels, and using a flexible conduit in wet locations that was not waterproof. One repeat health violation was cited for exposing employees to corrosive material without facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes. The company was cited for three of those four violations at the same location in April 2010, including having unlabeled control panels and a non-waterproof conduit in wet locations, and lack of access to the eye wash station.

"An employee's life was needlessly lost because the employer failed to identify and eliminate hazards prior to allowing work to begin," said Clyde Payne, OSHA's area director in Jackson. "If OSHA's standards for safety and health had been followed, this tragedy could have been avoided."

Marshall Durbin Cos., headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., is one of the largest privately owned poultry processing companies in the U.S. and employs approximately 3,000 workers, including 927 at the Hattiesburg location.