By Marianne Curtis
Granny’s Poultry in Blumenort has been given until December 21 to comply with an improvement order issued by the Workplace Safety and Health Division after a mid-November inspection.
Last month, the Dawson Trail Dispatch exclusively reported that WSHD had issued a “stop work warning” to Granny’s Poultry after an inspection disclosed several concerning issues pertaining to the ventilation system and the concentration of chlorine used in cleaning birds in the evisceration department.
The inspection was conducted after numerous complaints were received from UFCW Local 832 members working at the facility. The company was given until November 18, to improve the ventilation systems because workers are experiencing symptoms indicative of chloramines exposure.
UFCW Local 832 President, Jeff Traeger says that for years, workers have been complaining of respiratory issues and poor air quality at the poultry plant in the Turkey Evisceration Area. The health and safety committee regularly tried to investigate the problem, but according the union, management refused to cooperate. The union hired an Occupational Hygienist to investigate the issues and a complaint was made to the Provincial Health and Safety Division.
During their inspection, Workplace Health Safety inspectors observed workers suffering from symptoms including coughing, sneezing, runny nose, sore and burning eyes. Inspectors also observed that many of the fifty people working in the turkey evisceration department were wearing half faced respirator masks. Inspectors found only one air intake and one exhaust fan with three ducts in that department and only one in the chlorine bath room.
As a result of that inspection, Workplace Health and Safety ordered Granny’s to hire a professional mechanical engineer “to ensure sufficient fresh air and air circulation and assist in diluting airborne contaminants, stated the order.
The cause of the problem was a poor ventilation system in the evisceration department which did not allow for proper disposal of chloramines fumes. Chloramine is created when cleaning water is chlorinated and the ammonia from the dead birds combine. Fumes can cause sneezing, sinus congestion, coughing, choking, wheezing, shortness of breath, and asthma.
Granny’s staff received a letter from the company with their recent paystubs, dispelling the unions concerns. The letter further assured staff the company is addressing the order.