Double Amputation at Meat Plant Leads to OSHA Fines

Jan. 17, 2003
A gruesome accident triggered an OSHA inspection and citations for two companies for safety violations that contributed to a Montgomery beef processing plant accident that cost a worker both his legs. The agency fined BMS Contract Services $77,000 for one serious and two repeat violations and S&C Beef Processors $22,500 for one willful violation of safety standards.

At its Montgomery plant, S&C produces beef products for food service operators and restaurants. BMS, which began operations at the facility in 1999, is a contractor hired to clean and sanitize the processing machinery.

At the end of each day's shift, S&C employees dismantle the primary meat grinder and turn it over to BMS for cleaning. To meet the deadline for the start of the next shift, BMS employees often enter the grinder before plant employees have completed their preparations and officially turned over the machine. On June 23, an S&C worker started the grinder to facilitate removal of the screw auger, not knowing that a BMS employee had already climbed inside the grinder to begin cleaning it. The victim's legs were caught in the machine and amputated.

"Although the S&C employee did not see the BMS sanitation worker inside the grinder, this tragedy could have been prevented if just one of the companies had implemented its own lockout program and properly transferred control of the equipment prior to any employees being exposed to the moving equipment parts," said Ken Atha, OSHA's Mobile acting area director.

Related to the accident, BMS received citations for two repeat and one serious violation, all of which concerned failure to render machinery inoperable during cleaning. The company was also cited for not training workers to use and remove lockout devices. In this case, because the two employees involved in the cleaning process spoke no English, training in Spanish would have been required. BMS had been cited previously by OSHA on April 7, 2000 after similar violations resulted in an amputation at the same plant.

OSHA also cited S&C for one willful violation after learning that their employees were not protected from the same unexpected start-up while they removed the grinder's guard, blades and screw auger. The OSHA investigation revealed that S&C had proper lockout procedures developed, but managers did not require employees to affix de-energizing locks at the grinder. A willful violation is one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

S&C Beef Processors, a wholly owned subsidiary of ConAgra Foods, employs 550 workers at the Montgomery processing plant. Burlington, Iowa-based BMS Contract Services has an average of 48 employees at this location.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!