OSHA Cites Tyson Foods Neb. Beef Facility After Mechanic Crushed

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A mechanic working at Tyson Foods Inc. Dakota City, Neb., beef slaughterhouse died after a piece of equipment, secured only a chain, fell and on him.

Tyson Foods Dakota City, Neb., packing floor.

Tyson Foods’ Dakota City, Neb., packing floor.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Tyson Foods Inc. for seven safety violations after an inspection at the company’s Dakota City beef processing facility, where a mechanic was killed.

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. The chain failed and the equipment crushed the mechanic.

The Sioux City Journal reported:

Rodney R. Bridgett, 37, was injured about 11:45 a.m. Wednesday [14 March 2012] when a piece of equipment he was working on collapsed in the plant on Dakota Avenue, Dakota County Sheriff Chris Kleinberg said in a news release.

He said an ambulance crew took Bridgett to Mercy Medical Center – Sioux City, where he died shortly after 3 a.m. Thursday.
The incident appears to have been an accident, but Kleinberg said deputies will continue to investigate the matter until all medical reports have been completed.

Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said Thursday morning the meatpacking company’s safety and operations management staff were investigating. They planned to notify officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, he said in a statement.

The company’s beef slaughter and processing plant was not in operation when Bridgett was injured, Mickelson said.
Tyson canceled Thursday morning’s first-shift operations in the beef carcass production area of the plant as a result of the accident.

OSHA announced the citation in connection with Bridgett’s death on 27 August 2012.

“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, OSHA’s regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. “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.”

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.

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
• 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 Inc., headquartered in Springdale, Ark., is one of the world’s largest processors and marketers of chicken, beef, pork and prepared foods.

Tyson 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, which is the company’s largest beef processing plant.

Proposed penalties total $104,200, for the citations, which can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/TysonFoods_281167_0824_12.pdf.

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.

For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.


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