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US meatpacker faces big fine for injury reporting

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration yesterday proposed a record $2.59 million fine against the nation's largest meatpacker for what it called the worst case of underreporting injuries and illnesses in the agency's 16-year history. The penalty against IBP Inc. for violations at its Dakota City, Neb., plant would be the largest ever imposed on an employer by the federal agency, which issues and enforces job safety and health standards.

The citations accuse IBP of failing to record 1,038 job-related injuries and illnesses from January 1985 through December 1986.

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``This case is the worst example of underreporting injuries and illnesses to workers ever encountered by OSHA in its 16-year history,'' John A. Pendergrass, assistant secretary of labor, said in announcing the enforcement action.

IBP, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum, has 15 working days to contest the citation and proposed penalties.

The largest penalty imposed by OSHA until now was a $1.57 million fine against Chrysler earlier this month for 811 infractions at its Newark, Del., plant.

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