A meat processing plant in Bakerhill, Ala., faces fines of more than $75,000 for safety violations found by federal investigators after an employee lost part of a finger while using an unguarded machine.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said the 65-year-old worker at a Keystone Foods facility had part of his index finger amputated on March 7 while cleaning an overhead saw and made contact with the unguarded saw blade.
OSHA describes the West Chester, Penn.-based company as “a global food services company that supplies fresh and frozen products such as poultry, beef, fish and pork.”
OSHA investigators launched an investigation of Keystone Foods’ Bakerhill plant in response to the accident. The agency identified multiple violations that posed serious threats to the safety and health of Keystone employees. On Sept. 6, OSHA hit Keystone with $76,734 in fines.
“Keystone Foods is exposing workers to numerous serious safety hazards and must be more proactive with assessing the workplace for deficiencies and taking action to correct them,” said Joseph Roesler, OSHA’s area director in the Mobile. “This incident could have been prevented if management had followed OSHA standards.”
According to OSHA, the violations included:
- Exposing workers to amputation hazards due to unguarded saws and other machinery;
- Failing to follow safety procedures to prevent machinery from starting while cleaning;
- Exposing employees to falls due to unguarded platforms;
- Failing to ensure workers wore eye protection;
- Failing to address the hazards of propane tanks stored near the ammonia refrigeration;
- Not having an emergency action plan for an accidental ammonia release.
A recent analysis of workplace injuries conducted by OSHA revealed that failure to comply with key safety regulations has created a “disturbing trend” of amputations in workplaces throughout the country, with an average of seven such accidents occurring every day.
After OSHA’s severe injury reporting requirement took effect Jan. 1, 2015, the agency got a clearer picture of work-related amputations and other serious injuries leading to hospitalization. An analysis of the first full year of the requirement showed that 2,644 amputations were reported in 2015. So far this year, as of July 31, OSHA has received 1,500 amputation reports.