Plant Faces ‘Willful’ Safety Violations

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 @ 03:01 PM gHale

A Hormel Foods subsidiary is facing “willful” safety law violations in connection with an accident last summer that severed a turkey plant worker’s arm, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials said.

Shawn Redman, a 35-year-old veteran employee, was cleaning equipment July 20 at a Jennie-O Turkey Store processing plant in Barron, WI, when he caught his arm in a moving production line. Doctors were able to reattach the arm after emergency personnel flew him to a hospital.

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Jennie-O should not allow cleaning of any sort while the production line is running, said Rhonda Burke, an OSHA spokeswoman. The agency has proposed fines of $318,000.

Austin. MN-based Hormel can contest OSHA’s findings and penalties; the company said in a statement that it’s reviewing the citations. Jennie-O employs 1,200 at its Barron plant and is one of the nation’s largest turkey processors.

OSHA issued 11 citations to Jennie-O, seven of them deemed “serious” and four “willful.” OSHA issues willful violations only when it believes employers have demonstrated “intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard” for safety rules, or “plain indifference” to worker safety and health.

The company is “committed to being a leader in our industry for employee safety. We have an extensive safety program designed to meet regulatory requirements, which includes ongoing employee training,” said Jennie-O’s human resources Vice President, Pat Solheid.

Redman was cleaning in a room in which the company uses carbon dioxide to kill the turkeys, which are shackled to a conveyor. OSHA cited Jennie-O for not cutting power to the line while Redman was cleaning, and for not adequately ensuring the room was free of carbon dioxide while he worked.

Also, the agency said Jennie-O didn’t have an attendant to oversee Redman when he entered and left the room. After the accident, Redman had to walk down a flight of 25 stairs and 200 feet across a production floor to flag down a co-worker, OSHA said.

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