Employee’s Finger Amputation Leads To $263,000 Penalty on Tyson Foods

Employee’s Finger Amputation Leads To $263,000 Penalty on Tyson Foods

A possible penalty of over $263,000 will be levied on Tyson Foods, which is among the biggest global meat processors, subsequent to one of its worker undergoing amputation of finger and it was identified by federal inspectors that the chicken processing facility of the company in Center breaches over a dozen guidelines.

During an investigation conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) inspectors, it was discovered that while two of the infringements have occurred before as well, there were 15 new severe violations. The inspection was in response to the report of the amputation.

It was disclosed by the inspectors that employees are facing exposure to high levels of carbon dioxide and the disinfectant peracetic acid and that too with no provision of personal protective equipment. Arkansas-based Tyson’s officials were not available to comment on this matter. It was found during the inquiry that a worker had to get his finger amputated after it got stuck in a conveyor belt that was unguarded.

The employee was working in the de-bone area and was attempting removal of pieces of chicken that were stuck in the belt. This information was obtained from a Dallas office of the Department of Labor’s news release. However, the identification of the worker was not disclosed. Various other infringements were pointed out by the OSHA inspectors, such as absence of appropriate security guards while moving machine parts and permitting carbon dioxide levels to increase beyond the maximum tolerable limit.

Furthermore, there was no provision of personal protective equipment and workers were not given any training over the risks related to peracetic acid that can be responsible for developing respiratory problems and burns in case of inappropriate handling. "Tyson Foods must do much more to prevent disfiguring injuries like this one from happening," said the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, David Michaels.

A report published in Meat Poultry informed, "A report of an amputation at a Tyson Foods Inc. plant led to a broader investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that revealed serious workplace safety violations."

Investigators found that an employee suffered a finger amputation when his finger became stuck in an unguarded conveyor belt in the debone area of the plant. The worker was attempting to remove chicken parts that had jammed in the belt.

In a statement to MEAT+POULTRY, the company said, “We never want to see anyone hurt on the job, which is why we’re committed to continual improvement in our workplace safety efforts. We fully cooperated with OSHA’s inspection of our Center plant and intend to meet with OSHA officials in an effort to resolve these claims.”

According to a report in Dallas News by Karen Robinson-Jacobs, "Inspectors with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found two repeated and 15 serious violations after responding to a report of the amputation. Inspectors said workers were exposed to high levels of carbon dioxide and the disinfectant peracetic acid without being provided personal protective equipment."

"Tyson Foods must do much more to prevent disfiguring injuries like this one from happening," David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health, said in the release. "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."

The agency cited Tyson for a similar violation in a 2012 investigation at its Carthage facility. The company also failed to separate compressed gas cylinders of oxygen and acetylene while in storage — a violation for which OSHA cited the company in 2013 at its facility in Albertville, Ala.

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