WASHINGTON – A report of an amputation at a Tyson Foods Inc. plant led to a broader investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that revealed serious workplace safety violations.

OSHA, responding to a report of a finger amputation at Tyson’s Center, Texas, chicken processing plant, investigators identified two repeated and 15 serious violations. The company is facing $263,498 in proposed fines.

Investigators found that an employee suffered a finger amputation when his finger became stuck in an unguarded conveyor belt in the debone area of the plant. The worker was attempting to remove chicken parts that had jammed in the belt.

In a statement to MEAT+POULTRY, the company said, “We never want to see anyone hurt on the job, which is why we’re committed to continual improvement in our workplace safety efforts. We fully cooperated with OSHA’s inspection of our Center plant and intend to meet with OSHA officials in an effort to resolve these claims.”

OSHA also found more than 12 serious violations, including:

  • 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 can cause burns and respiratory illness if not handled safely.

Employees were exposed to slip-and-fall hazards due to improper drainage, trip-and-fall hazards posed by recessed drains and fire hazards resulting from improperly stored compressed gas cylinders. The repeated violations were for not making sure employees used appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to hazards. OSHA previously cited Tyson for a similar violation in 2012 at the company’s Carthage, Texas, processing plant. The agency added that Tyson failed to separate compressed gas cylinders of oxygen and acetylene while in storage, which is a similar violation cited at the company’s Albertville, Alabama, facility in 2013.

Tyson noted that the 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,” the company added. “For more information on Tyson Foods’ health and safety efforts, click here.