JBS cited by OSHA after worker death
by Meat&Poultry staff
GREELEY, Colo. – Two citations have been issued to JBS USA LLC by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) over the June 10, 2014, death of 54-year-old Ralph Horner, a maintenance technician, at the company’s beef plant in Greeley, Colo. OSHA released its findings on Dec. 11.
Horner was working close to an unguarded, in-going nip point, or a vulnerable area on the conveyor belt, when his hair was caught, dragging him into the conveyor system, which resulted in his death, OSHA told The Tribune in Greeley. OSHA said an inspection in June 2014 by the agency found the company failed to protect workers from moving machine parts by properly guarding or de-energizing the equipment. The agency cited the meat packing plant for one repeated and one serious violation.
"When workers are exposed to unprotected moving equipment, they can become entangled quickly. Unfortunately, the consequences can be fatal," said Herb Gibson, OSHA's area director in Denver. "If JBS USA had followed simple, well-known safety practices, this tragic incident could have been prevented."
JBS USA was cited for one repeated violation and charged with a $38,500 fine for exposing workers to severe injuries from lack of machine guarding, such as crushed fingers or hands, burns, amputations or blindness. A repeated violation exists when an employer previously was cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The Greeley plant was cited for a similar violation, and it became a final order in 2010, OSHA said.
OSHA also cited a serious violation, resulting in a $7,000 penalty, for failure to properly control energy sources on machinery during service and maintenance. 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. The proposed penalties total $45,500.
“The tragic loss of a team member is never acceptable,” JBS USA said in a statement to Meatpoultry.com. “We maintain high workplace safety standards for the company and our employees in an effort to prevent injuries and ensure a safe and healthful environment for all of our team members. We will review the citations and work with the federal government to resolve any concerns.”
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.