TRACY, Calif., April 21, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Cal/OSHA has cited Taylor Farms Pacific, Inc., and two temporary employment agencies following the October 15, 2015, release of chlorine gas at the company's food production facility in Tracy that hospitalized 20 workers.
Cal/OSHA's inspection of the facility found that injuries from the chemical release could have been avoided if Taylor Farms had trained the workers on what to do in an emergency. As a result, the workers did not evacuate as quickly as possible to prevent sickness from the chlorine gas, including burning eyes, shortness of breath, vomiting, nose bleeds and fainting.
Half of those injured worked for temporary employment agencies Abel Mendoza Inc. and RSJ Admin Services Inc., and Cal/OSHA has also cited those companies for failures to protect employees from safety and health hazards.
"In dual-employer situations, both California host employers and temp agencies are required to protect temporary employees and ensure safe workplaces," said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. "In this instance, Taylor Farms and the temp agencies failed to properly train workers for, and protect workers from, a hazardous chemical exposure."
Cal/OSHA issued a total of 16 workplace safety citations to Taylor Farms Pacific, Inc., with proposed penalties of $56,985. Two of the citations, classified as serious, involved Taylor's failure to control workers' exposure to chlorine, a hazardous substance, and the failure to train employees about its emergency action plan. A serious violation is cited when there is a realistic possibility that death or serious physical harm could result from the actual hazard created by the violation.
Cal/OSHA also issued citations for a total of five general safety violations to Abel Mendoza Inc. and RSJ Admin Services Inc. The general violations issued to both Mendoza and RSJ include the failures to control exposure to chlorine and to provide effective training regarding hazardous chemicals in language the majority of the affected workers understood. Mendoza was also cited for failing to conduct periodic inspections to identify unsafe working conditions affecting its employees.
Cal/OSHA's "Protecting Temporary Agency Employees" safety and health factsheet containing roles and responsibilities in dual-employer situations is available online.
Cal/OSHA helps protect workers from health and safety hazards on the job in almost every workplace in California. Cal/OSHA's Consultation Services Branch provides free and voluntary assistance to employers to improve their health and safety programs. Employers should call (800) 963-9424 for assistance from Cal/OSHA Consultation Services.
Employees with work-related questions or complaints may contact DIR's Call Center in English or Spanish at 844-LABOR-DIR (844-522-6734). The California Workers' Information line at 866-924-9757 provides recorded information in English and Spanish on a variety of work-related topics. Complaints can also be filed confidentially with Cal/OSHA district offices.
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The California Department of Industrial Relations, established in 1927, protects and improves the health, safety, and economic well-being of over 18 million wage earners, and helps their employers comply with state labor laws. DIR is housed within the Labor & Workforce Development Agency. For general inquiries, contact DIR's Communications Call Center at 844-LABOR-DIR (844-522-6734) for help in locating the appropriate division or program in our department.
SOURCE California Department of Industrial Relations, Cal/OSHA