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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Tyson Plant in Texas Exposes Workers to Serious Hazards

Why don't all the government safety regulations prevent exposure to workplace hazards? 

For the past several years, Oxfam has been investigating Tyson poultry plants around the country only to discover dangerous working conditions and many gruesome injuries among Tyson's poultry workers. While Tyson executives maintain that they have policies in place to protect their employees' health and safety, a few weeks ago, the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) confirmed workers' reports. At the Tyson plant in Center, Texas, a thorough investigation revealed 15 serious health and safety violations and two repeat violations.

If you have suffered a personal injury at your workplace, or developed a disease caused by unsafe working conditions, you should contact an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney who will fight vigorously to get you the compensation you deserve.

The Disfiguring Employee Injury that Led to the Safety Inspections

The grisly injury of one employee was what led to the examination of the entire Tyson plant. The worker in question had a joint of his left pinky finger amputated as a result of a horrible workplace accident. The government took the investigation very seriously, not only because of the severe nature of the injury, but because Tyson is the largest meat and poultry processor in the nation, controlling 23 percent of the market.

The Damning Discoveries

OSHA found an astounding number of dangerous practices throughout the Tyson plant, including:

  • Exposure to amputation hazards from malfunctioning machines
  • Sharp knives and fast lines that can (and do!) cause deep gashes
  • High levels of carbon dioxide
  • High levels of peracetic acid (corrosive to the eyes, respiratory tract, and skin)
  • Slip-and-fall hazards due to a lack of proper drainage
  • Fire hazards resulting from improperly stored compressed gas cylinders
  • Ammonia leaks that cause serious damage to the respiratory tract
  • Inadequate protective gear and/or equipment for workers

According to Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health, "[Tyson], as one of the nation’s largest food suppliers, should set an example for workplace safety rather than drawing multiple citations from OSHA for ongoing safety failures."

The Penalties Administered

Tyson was fined $263,498 for the violations, a small sum for such an enormous company with so many severe transgressions. Although Tyson has made public statements about safe working conditions at its plants in its Team Member Bill of Rights, it clearly doesn't practice what it preaches. Hopefully, this latest blow to its reputation and its fear of further investigations and penalties, not to mention lawsuits, will help the company to become a more responsible employer.

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