Personal Injury

Food Plant Fined After Third Accidental Amputation in Three Years

2874245 2874245 industrial gears background 316x210 Food Plant Fined After Third Accidental Amputation in Three YearsA food processing plant in Pasco, Washington, faces more than $90,000 in fines for serious repeated safety violations after a worker had his finger partially amputated by moving machinery.

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) said that it cited Freeze Pak, a division of Oregon Potato Co., for six safety violations with fines of $92,400. The fines were issued after a plant worker’s accidental finger amputation triggered an inspection. The amputation was the third time in three years that a worker suffered an accidental amputation at the plant.

Three of the safety violations involved serious violations for which Freeze Pak had been cited previously after the amputation accidents.

L&I began its investigation of the facility in June after the worker’s hand got caught in an improperly guarded conveyor as he was cleaning it. In addition to partially amputating his finger, the moving machinery also fractured the worker’s wrist.

Working in and around hazardous machinery and equipment requires safety procedures known as lockout/tagout, which are intended to prevent machinery from suddenly starting or moving during service and maintenance.

Washington regulators cited Freeze Pak four times in three years for similar violations; three of those involved a finger amputation, L&I said.

The recent investigation also found two instances where Freeze Pak did not adequately guard machinery to protect employees from exposure to serious injuries like broken bones, amputations, permanent disability, or death. Both cases involved problems with a waste conveyor. L&I cited the company for the same two violations in December 2014.

The investigation also uncovered two serious violations involving the lack of a written energy-control program to prevent inadvertent startup of machine or equipment, and for not providing suitable tools to protect employees from hazards while working the conveyor.

U.S. workers suffer more than seven accidental on-the-job amputations a day, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). More than 90 percent of the reported workplace amputations involved fingers. Amputations occur most often when workers operate unguarded or inadequately safeguarded machines.