The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued citations, with proposed penalties totaling $62,000, to Hillandale Farms for exposing employees to injuries from unguarded machinery and other safety hazards at the company's Lake City, Fla., egg processing plant.

"Unguarded machinery is a leading cause of worker injuries and deaths, because workers can be caught by moving parts," said James Borders, OSHA's Jacksonville area director. "These so-called 'caught-by' accidents are preventable by following safety standards."

Although egg packing equipment at the plant had labels attached warning workers not to remove safety guards, OSHA found that the company removed the guards and ran the equipment without them to facilitate cleaning operations by the night shift crew. During one of the cleaning cycles, a crew member's fingers were reportedly caught in the equipment.

The company received one willful citation, with a proposed penalty of $50,000, for exposing workers to caught-by injuries from unguarded drive chains.

OSHA also issued four serious citations with total proposed penalties of $9,000. The serious violations included failing to: have a "lockout-tagout" program that rendered machinery inoperable during cleaning and maintenance; train employees on proper procedures for clean-up operations; identify and label positions for the equipment's on and off controls.

The remaining $3,000 penalty was assessed because the company failed to conduct hazard assessments; develop and maintain a respirator program; properly maintain injury-illness logs, and provide first aid equipment for the night crew. OSHA also sent the employer a letter recommending emergency stop buttons be added to individual packer conveyors.