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OSHA Cites Tyson Foods over Beef Worker's Death

28 August 2012, at 1:38am

US - Tyson Foods faces fines of more than $100,000 for seven safety violations after conducting an inspection at the company's Dakota City beef processing facility, where a mechanic was fatally injured on 14 March.

The mechanic was performing maintenance work beneath a piece of equipment that had been secured in an elevated position by a chain and quick link, but the chain failed and the equipment crushed the mechanic.

A willful violation was cited for ineffective periodic safety equipment inspections and failing to make necessary modifications to the worker safety protection process through the inspections. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowledge or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

"It is unthinkable that an employer would allow workers in and around dangerous operations without ensuring that sufficient safeguards are in place," said Charles E. Adkins, US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration regional administrator in Kansas City, Missouri.

"All employers must take the necessary steps to eliminate hazards from the workplace. OSHA is committed to protecting workers on the job, especially when employers fail to do so."

Five serious violations involve failing to provide protective equipment for working with chemicals, use tags when lockout devices are not available for equipment, use suitable energy isolation devices for the work environment, train authorized workers on using lockout/tagout devices to control the energy sources of equipment and provide comprehensive training on hazard communication. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Additionally, one other-than-serious violation is failing to have a competent person certify the hazard assessment.

Tyson Foods, headquartered in Springdale, Arkansas, is one of the world's largest processors and marketers of chicken, beef and pork, as well as prepared foods.

The company employs about 115,000 workers at more than 400 facilities and offices in the U.S. and around the world. Approximately 3,500 workers are employed at the Dakota City facility.

Proposed penalties total $104,200, for the citations.

Tyson has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Omaha, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.