Mushroom grower faces fines for alleged safety violations

Author Subject: Mushroom grower faces fines for alleged safety violations
Watchdog Posted At 23:27:30 06/03/2001
Mushroom grower faces fines for alleged safety violations

United Foods has been cited by the state for lapses, including an accident that cost a worker his hand

Sunday, June 3, 2001

State officials have proposed fining a Salem mushroom farm $7,475 for several safety lapses, including an April accident that cost a worker his hand.

The citations of United Foods, better known by its Pictsweet label, were made public this week by the Oregon Division of Safety and Health. A farm-workers union attempting to organize the plant's 350 workers held a news conference Thursday, saying OSHA's findings buttress workers' allegations about unsafe conditions at the farm.

Enrique Lupian Diaz lost his right hand and half of his forearm after an April 17 accident in which another worker drove a forklift into a bin, pinning Diaz's hand to a doorway.

OSHA's citation found that the worker driving the forklift had received no training and was inadequately supervised.

The agency issued citations for narrow walkways in unlighted picking rooms, unguarded power equipment on a tractor, ungrounded power receptacles, electrical and plumbing hazards and nails protruding through ceilings.

OSHA also found that training was inconsistent and that concerns brought by workers to a company safety committee were not resolved in a reasonable time and sometimes went unaddressed altogether.

"It became clear to this compliance officer that there was a lack of communication between management and employees and an overall lack of trust by employees for management," a state inspector wrote.

Managers at the farm would not comment. Nor would a corporate spokesman for the privately held company, based in Bells, Tenn.

A United Foods spokesman has previously described the farm as a generous place to work; he said average annual pay was about $25,000 and that workers received health benefits and five weeks of paid time off.

United Foods had an estimated $163 million in sales last year.

Friction at the Salem farm has been building since March, when one worker was fired after a confrontation over group pay rates. United maintains that the worker left his workplace; the employee, Javier Velasquez, says he was retaliated against for speaking out.

Since then, Woodburn-based Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers United has called for a boycott of Pictsweet products, mirroring a United Farm Workers boycott of the company over a dispute at its Ventura, Calif., farm.
Del Re: Mushroom grower faces fines for alleged safety violations (Currently 0 replies)
Posted At 11:08:57 06/04/2001

Where was this published?

Thank you.
Watchdog Re: Mushroom grower faces fines for alleged safety violations (Currently 0 replies)
Posted At 15:25:23 06/04/2001

I found this at the Oregon live website

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