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  1. #1
    Senior Member FedUpinFarmersBranch's Avatar
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    May 2008

    IA-Inspectors allege 31 lapses of safety at Agriprocessors

    Inspectors allege 31 lapses of safety at Agriprocessors
    By CLARK KAUFFMAN • and TONY LEYS • • August 23, 2008

    The Agriprocessors meat processing plant in Postville is facing fines of up to $101,000 for 31 newly alleged violations of workplace safety regulations.

    "Iowa workers deserve a healthy and safe workplace, and continued new and repeat violations by the same company creates a negative view of Iowa employers," Iowa Labor Commissioner David Neil said.

    The 31 citations issued Friday stem from a July 8 inspection of the plant. The citations come just five months after the plant was cited for 39 violations of workplace safety rules, and two weeks after the state asked the Iowa attorney general to initiate a criminal investigation into alleged violations of Iowa's child-labor laws.

    A company consultant said Friday that most of the problems found in the July 8 inspection were fixed immediately or within days. "Agriprocessors regrets having even a single safety violation citation," the consultant, Menachem Lubinsky, said in a prepared statement. "As we have explained to (the state), our efforts involving employee safety are a top priority and we will continue to add to our safety initiative."

    "Any conclusion that the number of alleged violations indicates that the plant has widespread safety issues would be completely wrong," Lubinsky said. "For instance, eight of the alleged violations relate to one extension cord."

    Agriprocessors is the nation's biggest producer of kosher meats and is under investigation by federal authorities for possible violations of immigration-related labor laws.

    The company has been the focus of national attention since May 12, when authorities detained 389 workers in the nation's largest-ever, single-site immigration raid. Most of those arrested pleaded guilty of using false papers and are serving five-month prison sentences before facing deportation.

    The 31 new safety citations include 21 alleged violations that are classified as serious, and six violations that are considered repeat offenses.

    The citations are based in part on state inspectors' reports that allege a failure to provide safety railings on raised work platforms, a failure to properly store compressed-gas cylinders, the improper use of temporary wiring and a failure to properly guard moving equipment.

    The company has 15 days to formally respond to the citations and proposed fines.

    Lubinsky's statement praised the state agency for trying to protect workers, but disputed some of the allegations.

    "As to the specific findings of (the July inspection), almost all of the safety issues identified ... were remedied the day of the inspection. ... The remaining few issues were corrected in a matter of days thereafter."

    Lubinsky said the agency's reference to repeat offenses apparently referred to issues that were similar to those found before. However, he said all problems identified in previous inspections had been corrected before the July inspection.

    "We contest some of the alleged violations, and believe the label of 'serious' is not appropriate for many of the alleged violations," he wrote. "Our goal, however, is to create a work environment which is completely safe for all employees. In the past few months, we have made great strides in strengthening our safety compliance efforts."

    The alleged child-labor violations at Agriprocessors are tied to state findings that at least 57 juveniles, ranging in age from 14 to 17 years old, worked illegally in the Postville plant. Those violations could result in criminal penalties of up to $1 million. Company officials have said they did not knowingly hire underage workers.

    In recent years, no other meat-processing plant in Iowa has been hit with as many workplace safety citations as Agriprocessors.

    The Beef Products plant in Waterloo was cited for 24 violations last year and fined more than $1 million as a result of a worker's death caused by an ammonia leak.

    The company is appealing the fine.

    In September 2007, Swift & Co. in Marshalltown was cited for 15 violations and fined $26,000.

    Iowa Pacific Processors in Des Moines was cited for 18 violations last year and was fined $14,125.

    Although the latest citations against Agriprocessors carry a proposed penalty of $101,000, the amount could change drastically through a process of negotiations with state labor officials.

    Earlier this year, the state agreed to reduce a set of fines against Agriprocessors from $182,000 to $42,750. ... /808230331
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  2. #2
    AF is offline
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    Jan 1970
    If you want to know what businesses get cited for, check out this site:

    When was the last time you have ever heard of ICE conducting a raid on a agriculture field? It seems these employees are protected. They have better lobbiest.

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