Workers at a Delaware poultry processing plant are suffering musculoskeletal injuries caused by their jobs, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Following an inspection at Allen Harim Foods’ Harbeson plant, the agency claimed that workers who spent eight hours a day cutting chicken fat, bone and cartilage at the facility were exposed to musculoskeletal disorder hazards. The agency determined that workers were performing prolonged, repetitive and forceful tasks without controls in place to prevent injuries.

“Musculoskeletal injuries caused by these hazards in poultry plants are too common,” commented Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. “These types of injuries can be prevented by implementing appropriate engineering and administrative controls in the workplace, and when they occur, they must be treated early with appropriate medical care to prevent the illness from progressing.”

In addition to a serious citation for the company’s failure to address musculoskeletal disorder hazards, OSHA issued serious citations for other hazards identified during its inspection.

It said that the chicken producer had failed to designate emergency exits properly and to ensure employees received training related to machinery that could unexpectedly start up during service and maintenance. In total, OSHA cited Allen Harim Foods for nine violations and proposed penalties amounting to $38,000.

“The combination of musculoskeletal disorder hazards, lack of proper medical treatment for musculoskeletal disorders and under-reporting of injuries at this plant must be addressed by the company,” said Erin Patterson, director of OSHA’s Wilmington office. “Workers should not have to work in pain, especially when these injuries are preventable.”

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a meeting with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.