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Tyson Foods fined after worker's hand severed

By Joe Whitworth+

18-Dec-2013

Tyson Foods has been cited for four workplace safety violations totalling $147,000 after a worker's hand was severed by unguarded machine.

The safety violations at the Hutchinson prepared foods manufacturing plant come after the employees hand was severed by a conveyor belt.

US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began its inspection after learning of the amputation, on June 17 when four workers were cleaning conveyor equipment at the end of their shift.

The Hutchinson plant has been inspected five times in the past 10 years, resulting in seven violations.

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

Tyson response

Workplace safety is very important to everyone at the company, said a Tyson Foods statement sent to FoodQualityNews.com.

“We expect our employees to perform to the highest safety and health standards across Tyson Foods operations at all times. Our efforts include safety policies and training, and the involvement of workers in our safety committees.

“We’re reviewing the citations and will work cooperatively with OSHA to resolve these concerns.”

Placed in SVEP program

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

"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."

Past cases

In a separate incident, OSHA proposed fines of $121,720 for repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards following an inspection at its Buffalo manufacturing plant in November.

The inspection, which began on May 15, was under OSHA's Site Specific Targeting Program, identified three hazards similar to those previously cited at other facilities.

The hazards involve failing to document that refrigeration equipment complied with generally accepted good engineering practices, guard floor holes and maintain a sufficient work space in front of electrical equipment.

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