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OSHA Cites Tyson Foods After Worker’s Hand Severed in Accident

Dec. 18, 2013
Tyson, which is in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, faces $147,000 in fines.

OSHA has cited Tyson Foods Inc. for four safety violations carrying a $147,000 price tag after a worker lost his hand in an accident at the company’s Hutchinson, Kan., plant.

“Removing guards and failing to train workers in proper lockout procedures is inexcusable," said Judy Freeman, OSHA's area director in Wichita. "Tyson Foods failed to ensure safety procedures, demonstrating a lack of commitment to workplace safety and health and resulting in a tragic injury."

OSHA launched an inspection after learning about a June 17 accident in which an unguarded conveyor belt severed a worker’s hand. The accident occurred as four workers were cleaning conveyor equipment at the end of their shift.

According to OSHA, guarding on the conveyor was removed, exposing workers to rotating parts. A worker's frock and the employee's arm then were pulled into moving gears of a conveyor that had not been locked out to prevent unintentional operation.

Two willful violations involve failing to train workers on lockout/tagout procedures and to lock out equipment to prevent the unintentional operation of equipment and exposure to amputation hazards.

One serious violation involves fall hazards when workers ascend the upper platform work area in two separate plant locations. The company failed to provide fixed stairs to reach the work areas, according to OSHA.

An other-than-serious violation involves lack of legible markings on forklift levers.

OSHA has proposed fines totaling $147,000 for the alleged violations.

Due to the nature and severity of the violations, OSHA has placed Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Foods in the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.

The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Under the program, OSHA can inspect any of the employer's facilities if the agency has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.

OSHA has inspected Tyson’s Hutchinson plant five times in the last 10 years, resulting in seven violations.

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