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OSHA Fines Food Manufacturer $107K after Worker Dies

On June 22, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued citations for $107,000 to Wei-Chuan U.S.A. Inc. for one willful, one repeat, and six serious violations.

OSHA initiated an inspection on December 27, 2015, after the Jersey City Police Department notified the agency of a worker's death at the company's Jersey City, NJ food distribution warehouse. Inspectors found a 60-year-old warehouse supervisor died after falling 24 feet from a top-tier warehouse rack. Inspectors learned the company knowingly allowed forklifts to elevate employees on pallets as they conducted inventory.

OSHA cited the company with a willful violation for its failure to use an approved platform for raising employees on forklifts and failure to provide fall protection. Hazard communication training deficiencies resulted in the repeat citation, for which OSHA cited Wei-Chuan previously in February 2011.

The agency found the serious violations were due to employees being allowed to improperly climb warehouse racks, lack of hand protection while handling hazardous materials, electrical hazards, hazard communication deficiencies, and lack of forklift training.

"Wei-Chuan U.S.A. failed to provide required fall protection and ensure its forklift practices were safe, resulting in a preventable fatality. This tragedy could have been prevented if the company used basic safeguards and properly trained its employees to recognize workplace hazards," said Brian Flynn, acting director at OSHA's Parsippany Area Office.

Wei-Chuan U.S.A. Inc. is a food manufacturing and distribution company that produces frozen food products and is headquartered in Bell Gardens, CA.

The employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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