The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited the Tyson Foods chicken-processing facility in Center, Texas, for 15 serious and two repeated violations following a report of a finger amputation. The company faces $263,498 in proposed fines.

An investigation determined an employee suffered an amputation when his finger became stuck in an unguarded conveyor belt as he worked in the debone area and tried to remove chicken parts jammed in the belt.

OSHA inspectors also found more than a dozen 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. Used as a disinfectant, the acid can cause burns and respiratory illness if not handled safely.

"Tyson Foods must do much more to prevent disfiguring injuries like this one from happening," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "As one of the nation's largest food suppliers, it should set an example for workplace safety rather than drawing multiple citations from OSHA for ongoing safety failures."

Inspectors also discovered that employees were exposed to slip-and-fall hazards due to a lack of proper drainage, trip-and-fall hazards caused by recessed drains, and fire hazards resulting from improperly stored compressed gas cylinders.

OSHA cited Tyson for repeated violations for not ensuring employees used appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards and for failing to separate compressed gas cylinders of oxygen and acetylene while in storage.

Headquartered in Springdale, Arkansas, Tyson is the world's largest meat and poultry processing company. With more than $40 billion in annual sales, the company produces more than 68 million pounds of meat per week. It has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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