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Sampson pork plant fined after worker's death

Posted August 14, 2012

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— The North Carolina Department of Labor has fined a Smithfield Foods pork packing plant in Clinton more than $250,000 for safety violations discovered after a worker's death almost six months ago.

Brandon Christopher Taylor, 26, of High House Road in Clinton, was found dead on Feb. 18 with his head in the opening of a waste tanker at the Smithfield Packing plant at 424 E. Railroad St., officials said.

Clinton police said a preliminary investigation showed that Taylor was cleaning out the tanker, was overcome by fumes and went into cardiac arrest.

The state Division of Occupational Safety and Health cited Smithfield with three willful and serious violations for not providing respiratory equipment to employees working in its waste tankers, not training employees about detecting hazardous fumes and not training them how to protect themselves from such fumes.

Smithfield also was cited for seven serious and four non-serious violations in connection with Taylor's death, including inadequate lighting in the area where he was working, a lack of protection from a fall from workers atop the tankers and not having facilities nearby to wash hazardous chemicals off workers.

The state proposed $238,125 in fines for the various violations, and it set deadlines to fix any problems that haven't been remedied already, with Sept. 28 as the last deadline.

In addition, a plant inspection turned up other safety violations, such as obstructed exit routes, a lack of safety guards on equipment and having open electrical fixtures near workers. Those violations amounted to another $13,125 in proposed fines.

Smithfield Foods has 15 business days to appeal the fines.


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  • piene2 Aug 15, 2012

    We never buy any Smithfield products. If one bothers to read the labels one will see that all of their trash is infused with all sorts of chemicals and water. We buy at a local German pork store. There is a huge difference on quality and if one factors in the added weight of all the chemicals and water in Smithfield pork, the cost is about the same.

  • fzero Aug 15, 2012

    Doesn't surprise me. That industry often tries to cut corners for family profit.

  • curiousgeorgia Aug 15, 2012

    I wish I could eat tofu and other beans, but they make me so sick. Darn.

  • methinks Aug 14, 2012

    The smells at a meat packing plant are different than those at a farm. Mom used to work in meat packing plants and it is hard to describe the smell. it wasn't rank like farms, but there was a smell.

  • kellypsnll Aug 14, 2012

    Turkey farms are pretty rank this time of year also.

  • venitapeyton Aug 14, 2012

    BubbaDukeforPresident, People work around that smell because its a job that pays wages. As long as there is a market for bacon, ham and sausage, there will be a need for human support in slaugterhouses. Not for the faint at heart.

  • BubbaDukeforPresident Aug 14, 2012

    I don't know how people work around that smell. Your eyes water just driving past a pig farm. In Nebraska where my ex-wife lives, huge cattlepens containing several thousand cows can be smelled miles away. We had a friend who was foreman of one feed lot and lived in a trailer on the property. His windows were covered in plastic on the outside and he had to build an alcove on the front to keep the flies from following him inside. The house has either the air conditioner or the heater running all of the time, but there's no sitting outside or opening the windows. Breathing that stuff is toxic.