When federal inspectors arrived at an East Texas poultry processing plant to investigate an accidental amputation, they uncovered a multitude of safety hazards that exposed employees to disfiguring injuries and death.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said that inspectors it dispatched to the Tyson Foods Inc. chicken processing facility in Center, Texas, found more than a dozen serious safety violations, including failure to install safety guards on moving machine parts.
That violation contributed to an employee at the plant having a finger amputated after it became stuck in an unguarded conveyor belt as he worked on a deboning line and tried to remove chicken parts jammed in the belt.
Inspectors also found the plant allowed carbon dioxide levels to build above the permissible exposure limit, failed to provide workers with personal protective equipment and proper training on the hazards associated with peracetic acid, a disinfectant that causes chemical burns and occupational lung injuries if handled improperly,
Tyson was also cited for exposing its workers to slip-and-fall hazards caused by improper drainage, trip-and-fall hazards posed by recessed floor drains, and fire hazards related to improperly stored compressed gas cylinders.
“Tyson Foods must do much more to prevent disfiguring injuries like this one from happening,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health. “As one of the nation’s largest food suppliers, it should set an example for workplace safety rather than drawing multiple citations from OSHA for ongoing safety failures.”
OSHA proposed penalties of $263,498 for the violations.
Headquartered in Springdale, Ark., Tyson is the world’s largest meat and poultry processing company. The company operates numerous processing plants across the U.S., produces more than 68 million pounds of meat per week, and generates more than $40 billion in annual sales.