Federal and Oregon state authorities are investigating the horrific death of a worker who fell into a running blender at a meat processing plant Friday, April 26, near Portland.
The worker, identified by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office as Hugo Avalos-Chanon, 41, of Southeast Portland worked for DCS Sanitation Management, a cleaning company contracted by Interstate Meat Distributors to clean industrial equipment at the meat processing facility.
According to the Oregonian, paramedics and sheriff’s deputies received a call around 11:45 p.m. Friday, after Mr. Avalos-Chanon fell in the blender and became entangled in it. The machine was equipped with an emergency stop button, but by the time another worker could hit it, it was too late. Firefighters had to return the following day to disassemble the machine and remove the body.
A state medical examiner told The Oregonian that Mr. Avalos-Chanon died from “blunt force injuries and chopping wounds.”
Investigators are treating the incident as a “tragic industrial accident” and do not suspect foul play was involved.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has begun an investigation of the accident. OSHA inspectors cited Interstate Meat last October after finding that meat grinders and other machinery at the plant were not properly locked during the tear-down process for cleaning. An inspector warned then that an “unexpected start-up of the machine” could cause severe injuries.
Failure to properly lock industrial machinery to prevent accidental start-ups and failure to properly guard workers from falling into machinery are some of the most common causes of industrial accidents, resulting in hundreds of injuries and deaths each year, according to OSHA records.
The president of Interstate Meat Distributors, Darrin Hoy, said the accident was “extremely unfortunate” and difficult to discuss.
“We’re not looking forward to reliving through any of it again,” he said.