The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Tyson Foods Inc. for seven safety violations after conducting an inspection at the company's Dakota City beef processing facility, where a mechanic was fatally injured on March 14.
Proposed penalties total $104,200, for the citations. One “serious” violation has a proposed penalty of $34,200 while several “willful” citations carry a total of $70,000 in penalty costs. The safety violations were made public Monday (Aug. 27) by the federal agency.
Tyson Foods spokesman Worth Sparkman released the following statement after Monday’s announcement: “We're reviewing the citations and will work cooperatively with OSHA to resolve the agency's concerns. The safety of our people is very important to us and we want to make sure accidents like this are prevented in the future.”
The plant fatality in March involved a mechanic who was performing maintenance work beneath a piece of equipment that had been secured in an elevated position by a chain and quick link, according to the release. But the chain failed and the equipment crushed him.
A willful violation was cited for ineffective periodic safety equipment inspections related to this fatality. The company was also cited for 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.
"It is unthinkable that an employer would allow workers in and around dangerous operations without ensuring that sufficient safeguards are in place," said Charles 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."
Five serious violations handed out Monday 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 and 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, there was one other-than-serious violation given out for Tyson’s failing to have a competent person certify the hazard assessment.
Tyson Foods 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.