Tyson Fined for Chemical, Fall, Fire Risks at Texas Plant

By Nushin Huq

Aug. 16 — Tyson Foods Inc. faces $263,498 in fines for exposing employees in a Texas facility to amputation, chemical, fall and fire hazards, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration said Aug. 16.

Following up on a finger amputation report at the Tyson chicken processing facility in Center, Texas, OSHA inspectors identified two repeat and 15 serious violations, the agency said. These include failing to ensure proper safety guards on moving machine parts, allowing carbon dioxide levels above the permissible exposure limit, failing to provide personal protective equipment and not training employees on hazards associated with peracetic acid, which is used as a disinfectant but can cause burns and respiratory illness if handled unsafely.

OSHA cited the Arkansas-based company for repeated violations for not making sure employees used appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to hazards. In 2012, OSHA cited Tyson for a similar violation at its Carthage, Texas, facility.

The investigation into the finger-amputation accident revealed that the employee’s finger was lost when it became stuck in an unguarded conveyor belt in the deboning area, OSHA said. He was trying to remove chicken parts in the belt.

Inspectors also found 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 of improper stored compressed gas cylinders. Tyson failed to separate compressed gas cylinders of oxygen and acetylene while in storage, a violation for which OSHA cited the company before in 2013 at its Albertville, Alabama, facility.

The inspection falls under OSHA’s Regional Emphasis Program for Poultry Processing Facilities.

Headquartered in Springdale, Ark., Tyson is the world’s largest meat and poultry processing company.

Tyson has fully cooperated with OSHA’s inspection at its Center plant and intends to meet with OSHA officials in an effort to resolve these claims, Gary Mickelson, company spokesman, told Bloomberg BNA in a statement.

“We never want to see anyone hurt on the job, which is why we’re committed to continual improvement in our workplace safety efforts,” Mickelson said. “Our company employs almost 500 health and safety professionals who are involved in such areas as safety training, safety audits, ergonomics and health care. We also have programs and policies to help protect our employees.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Nushin Huq in Houston at nhuq@bna.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

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