The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Gold Kist for allegedly exposing workers to serious and repeated safety hazards at its Russellville, Ala., poultry processing plant. The agency is proposing penalties totaling $143,000.

"Failing to comply with required safety procedures puts workers at unnecessary risk," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's area director in Birmingham, Ala. "When employers shirk their responsibility to keep workplaces free of hazards, the results can be tragic for workers and their families."

OSHA issued 21 serious safety citations with proposed penalties of $90,000. The citations were associated with blocked and improperly marked exits; unsafe floor conditions; inadequate personal protective equipment; insufficient machine guarding; and numerous other safety hazards. Serious citations are issued when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazards.

The company also received two repeat violations with penalties totaling $50,000 for failure to keep conveyor belt work areas free from fall hazards and other unsafe conditions. Repeat violations occur when an employer has been cited previously for a substantially similar condition and the citation has become a final order of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHA issued one other-than-serious citation and proposed a $3,000 penalty for not complying with required record-keeping procedures.