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OSHA Finds Pork Processing Facility Exposed Employees to Hazards

Federal investigators identified dozens of safety violations.

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SANDUSKY, Ohio – A Sandusky pork processing facility exposed workers to a release of ammonia gas, leading the U.S. Department of Labor to open two inspections and issue 43 violations of federal regulations.

Investigators with the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened inspections at HK Cooperative Inc., operating as J.H. Routh Packing Co., in December 2023 and January 2024 after a local government agency notified OSHA that two workers suffered exposure to ammonia gas during maintenance of a refrigeration system.

Opened under the agency’s Regional Emphasis Program for food manufacturing, the inspections identified a wide range of safety concerns for which OSHA issued 40 serious violations and two other-than-serious violations and one repeat violation. The company also received one repeat violation for exposing employees to amputation and other serious hazards due to inadequate point-of-operation guarding on a meat saw.

The agency has assessed J.H. Routh Packing Co. with $528,441 in proposed penalties.

OSHA cited the company with serious violations for hazards that included the following:

  • Lack of fall protection.
  • Noise exposure.
  • Inadequate permit-required confined space procedures.
  • Lack of an emergency eyewash/shower.
  • Lockout/tagout procedures for machines.
  • No hazard communication plans.
  • Electrical safety related work practices.
  • Failure to mark all exits.
  • Unsafe electrical equipment and installations.
  • Lack of lockout devices.
  • Lack of personal protective equipment.
  • Unsafe walking working surfaces and stairways.

HK Cooperative’s previous OSHA citations include a serious violation in March 2024 for failing to protect employees from bloodborne pathogens and assessed a $13,828 penalty, which the employer is currently contesting. In November 2023, violations were issued for electrical hazards, machine guarding and for improperly maintained tools.

HK Cooperative Inc. slaughters hogs for pork product and animal feed production and employs about 372 workers in Sandusky. 

        An unexpected error occurred: Timed out after 10000ms
        An unexpected error occurred: Timed out after 10000ms