Tyson Foods cited by US Labor Department's OSHA for 4 workplace safety
violations after worker's hand severed by unguarded machine
Company placed in Severe Violator Enforcement Program
HUTCHINSON, Kan. – Tyson Foods Inc. has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for four workplace safety violations at the Hutchinson prepared foods manufacturing plant after a worker's hand was severed by an unguarded conveyor belt.
"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 began its inspection upon learning of the amputation, which occurred June 17 when four workers were cleaning conveyor equipment at the end of their shift. Guarding on the conveyor was removed, exposing workers to rotating parts. A worker's frock and the employee's arm were then 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. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.
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. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known existed.
An other-than-serious violation involves lack of legible markings on forklift levers. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
OSHA has proposed fines of $147,000. The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/TysonFoodsInc_913161_1213_13.pdf
Due to the nature and severity of violations, the company has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. OSHA's SVEP focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer's facilities if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.
The Hutchinson plant has been inspected by OSHA five times in the past 10 years, resulting in seven violations.
Tyson Foods Inc., headquartered in Springdale, Ark., is one of the world's largest processors and marketers of chicken, beef, pork and prepared foods. Approximately 115,000 workers are employed at more than 400 facilities and offices nationwide and overseas, with 150 workers at the Hutchinson facility. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Wichita Area Office at 316-269-6644.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 242-693-7828 or TTY 242-693-7755.
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