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OSHA Investigating Tragic Fatal Incident at Alabama Poultry Plant

January 13, 2020

GUNTERSVILLE, AL- writes that a 36-year-old man died in a work-related accident at a poultry processing plant in Alabama. Firefighters initially reported that the victim died in an elevator accident. New information is indicating that the cause may have been somewhat different.*

The state’s Department of Labor stated that the device involved in the tragic accident was not an elevator, but a mechanical lift. While these devices share similarities with and visually resemble elevators, they are not intended to be used to lift people and are not regulated by the state in the same way as elevators. A spokesperson for the Department of Labor explained that it is dangerous for people to ride on these lifts. 

OSHA did not offer comments on the incident because it is still carrying out the investigation. 

Records indicate that the company had three safety-related fines from OSHA within the last decade. The violations included a hazard communication violation in 2015 which led to a $1,400 fine, a hazardous energy violation in 2016 for which it was fined $5,610 and a fine in 2019 for process safety management involving hazardous chemicals, which led to a $13,260 fine. 

The company issued a response when it was questioned about the previous fines. In their statement, the victim’s employer claimed that in the earlier situations, they coordinated with OSHA to come to resolutions that would make their workplace safer for employees. The previous issues they claimed were completely unrelated to the employee’s death this week. The poultry processor refused to address the issue in any more detail citing respect for the victim’s grieving family. 

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Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.