Georgia Appeals Court Upholds Limits on Workplace Inspection After Accident
ATLANTA, GA. – October 22, 2018 (ajc.com) According to an online news report from ajc.com, the Court of Appeals in Georgia has upheld limitations placed on inspection of a Georgia poultry processing facility following a worker accident. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s request for a broader inspection was struck down in a Georgia district court.*
On February 3, 2016, an unnamed employee of the Georgia-based poultry processing facility Mar-Jac Poultry Inc. was injured on the job. The employee was attempting to repair an electrical panel using a non-insulated screwdriver, and a resulting arc-flash caused severe burns to the employee’s face and hand. The employee was hospitalized for treatment of the burns.
The day after the incident, Mar-Jac submitted a report to OSHA, as required by federal law. OSHA responded by sending an inspection team to the facility, which requested to conduct a comprehensive inspection of the entire facility to check for additional hazards. Omitted from court documents was the fact that Mar-Jac’s attorney told the OSHA inspector she would have to wear a box over her head if she wanted to walk through the plant. The inspector refused to wear a box, and Mar-Jac refused the comprehensive inspection. The company limited the inspection to the electrical accident site and the tools involved and did not allow the inspector to walk through the plant. OSHA’s inspection found three violations, including electrical safety, personal protective equipment, and guarding of machines violations.
After reviewing documentation submitted by Mar-Jac, OSHA applied to a federal magistrate judge for a warrant to conduct a broader inspection of the Mar-Jac facility. The magistrate judge granted the application, and Mar-Jac moved to quash the inspection warrant. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia quashed the warrant and said OSHA could apply for a more limited inspection warrant.
OSHA appealed to the 11th Circuit, and the Court of Appeals issued an opinion October 9 affirming the ruling of the District Court that quashed the broad inspection. The Court again informed OSHA that it may file a new application more limited in scope and consistent with the Administration’s probable cause.
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