The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined Tyson Foods $263,498 for 15 “serious” and two “repeated” workplace safety violations at the company’s chicken processing facility in Center, TX. According to OSHA inspectors, the violations by the one of the nation’s largest meat and poultry processors resulted in the amputation of an employee’s finger when he was trying to remove chicken parts jammed in an unguarded conveyor belt. OSHA stated that the company “endangered workers by exposing them to amputation hazards, high levels of carbon dioxide and peracetic acid without providing personal protective equipment.” Inspectors also identified more than a dozen “serious violations” at the plant such as failing to install proper safety guards on moving machine parts, allowing carbon dioxide levels above the permissible exposure limit, failing to provide the personal protective equipment, and not training workers about the hazards associated with handling peracetic acid. Peracetic acid is used as a disinfect and can cause burns and respiratory problems if it is not handled properly, OSHA stated. Other problems inspectors found at the plant included employees exposed to slip-and-fall hazards due to a lack of proper drainage, trip-and-fall hazards caused by recessed drains, and fire hazards resulting from improperly stored compressed gas cylinders. Such inspections fall under OSHA’s Regional Emphasis Program for Poultry Processing Facilities. OSHA also cited Tyson Foods for “repeated violations” for not making sure that its workers wear appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards. The agency cited Tyson in 2012 for a similar violation at the company’s plant in Carthage, TX. The inspections were made between Feb. 22 and July 1, and the citations were issued to Tyson Foods on Aug. 15. Payment is due 15 days after receipt of the citations unless the violations are contested.
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