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Arm amputation leads to OSHA citations for Jennie-O Turkey Store

January 24, 2012
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ambulanceAfter suffering a traumatic arm amputation in a confined space, a Jennie-O Turkey employee had to walk down a flight of stairs and 200 feet across a production floor to get the attention of a co-worker for assistance.

The July 20, 2011 incident at the company's Barron, Wisconsin processing facility occurred when the worker was conducting cleaning activities while working alone in a confined space. His arm got caught in an energized turkey shackle line and was amputated below the shoulder.

Following an investigation into the incident, OSHA has cited Jennie-O Turkey Store Inc. for 11 safety violations at that location. Jennie-O Turkey Store, based in Willmar, Minn., is a division of Austin, Minn.-headquartered Hormel Foods Corp.

"Jennie-O Turkey Store has a legal responsibility to follow established permit-required confined space regulations to ensure that its employees are properly protected from known workplace hazards," said Mark Hysell, director of OSHA's Eau Claire Area Office.

Four willful violations involve not following OSHA's permit-required confined space regulations in the carbon dioxide tunnel room, including failing to ensure that workers isolated the carbon dioxide gas supply line and locked out power to the shackle line prior to entering the room to conduct cleaning activities, verify that electro-mechanical and atmospheric hazards within the room were eliminated prior to workers entering the space, test atmospheric conditions prior to allowing entry and provide an attendant during entries to the room.

Seven serious violations involve failing to provide fall protection, provide rescue and emergency services equipment, develop procedures to summon rescue and emergency services, provide confined space entry procedures, prepare entry permits for the confined space, train employees and supervisors in entry permit procedures, and ensure that the entry supervisor performed required duties.

In many instances, employees who work in confined spaces face risk of exposure to serious physical injury from hazards such as entrapment, engulfment and hazardous atmospheric conditions. Confinement may also pose entrapment hazards and require employees to work in closer proximity to hazardous machinery components than they would otherwise. Additional information on confined space hazards is available online at www.osha.gov/SLTC/confinedspaces/index.html.

Based on the violations cited during this latest inspection, OSHA has proposed $318,000 in fines. Jennie–O Turkey Store operates turkey growing and processing facilities in Minnesota and Wisconsin as well as national and international distribution systems. The company employs 1,200 workers at the Barron facility and 5,000 corporatewide. Prior to this inspection, OSHA had inspected the Barron facility four times since 2004, resulting in citations for 12 violations.

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