OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has recently fined Tyson Foods, the country’s largest poultry food processor, with more than $263,000 in fines after a conveyor belt in Tyson’s Center, Texas, caught and dragged an employee’s finger into a deboning machine immediately amputating the finger.
After the incident, OSHA started to inspect the facility and found 15 serious workplace safety violations, as well as two repeated violations.
According to OSHA reports, some examples of the infringements on workplace safety include amputation hazards, worker exposure to high levels of harmful substances like carbon dioxide and parcetic acid, the lack of protective equipment, and a lack of safety guards on equipment and catwalks.
There were also numerous slip-and-fall hazards at the plant, because of lack of proper drainage and the improper storage of compressed oxygen and acetylene. According to the United States Department of Labor, slip-and-fall accidents make up a majority of general industry accidents and account for about 15% of accidental deaths per year.
“Tyson Foods must do much more to prevent disfiguring injuries like this one from happening,” said OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels, a public health specialist, about the incident that prompted OSHAs inspection of the plant. “As one of the nation’s largest food suppliers, it should set an example for workplace safety rather than drawing multiple citations from OSHA for ongoing safety failures.”
Apparently, occupational hazards are all too common in the poultry industry — recent reports from Oxfam America and the Government Accountability Office have found that the industry’s facilities are full of safety violations.
This isn’t even the first time that OSHA has targeted Tyson. Plants in Texas and Alabama have incited fines for various violations in recent years. Three years ago, OSHA placed the poultry giant on its Severe Violators Enforcement Program and fined it $147,000 after a worker’s hand was severed in a plant in Kansas.
But don’t feel too bad for Tyson yet — in 2015, the company made a nine-month revenue of $37.6 billion, with profits of $864 million, numbers which are still rising this year.