Local News

Sampson pork plant fined after worker's death

Posted August 14, 2012 2:16 p.m. EDT

— 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.