For the third time since 2012, federal investigators have cited Sharpe Holdings in the death of an employee. The most recent casualty was a 51-year-old equipment operator, who suffered serious head injuries aftere he was ejected from the rear of a van on Sept. 26, 2015. He died the following day.

An investigation by OSHA found the company did not provide safety belts, secure passenger seats or latch the rear doors of the van used on its La Belle cattle and dairy farm. OSHA issued one repeat and 17 serious safety violations to the company on Feb. 23 and placed it in the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

"Sharpe Holdings is a repeat violator that knowingly refuses to follow basic safety procedures. Three people have died while working at this facility in the last five years. This latest tragedy could have been prevented by using common-sense safety devices," said Mike Minicky, OSHA's acting area director in St. Louis. "Safety is simply not a priority for Sharpe Holdings. OSHA will continue to monitor and inspect this employer to ensure workers are protected on the job."

While investigating the fatality OSHA found:

  • Workers exposed to amputation and other serious injuries while servicing and maintaining various equipment including the creamery boiler and concrete mixing trucks because the company failed to develop and use procedures to prevent the unintentional startup of equipment.
  • Fans, shafts and other machinery lacked guards to prevent workers from contact with moving parts.
  • Multiple electrical hazards.
  • Confined space hazards.
  • Lack of respiratory protection.
  • No emergency eyewash stations where corrosives were present.
  • Air receiver safety valves were not inspected as required.

Incidents like the September fatality occur all too frequently. In 2014, more than 1,800 U.S. workers died in transportation-related incidents, an average of 150 per month, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics*.

Bethel-based Sharpe Holdings has been inspected by OSHA seven times since September 2012. Those investigations include two other fatalities and a worker hospitalization.

Other recent accidents at Sharpe Holdings

On Sept. 1, 2014, a 35-year-old worker doing maintenance work on an overhead door's pulleys died after he fell off a 12-foot ladder onto a concrete floor at the dairy farm. OSHA identified eight serious safety violations. The company contested those citations.

In October 2012, an auto mechanic at a company repair shop in La Belle died of complications during treatment for injuries inflicted when a tire rim struck him. The inspection resulting from that fatality found multiple violations of OSHA regulations.

In January 2015, a skid steer loaded struck a worker, resulting in his hospitalization. OSHA issued one serious violation for failing to instruct the operator in the safe operation. The company contested the citation.

Proposed penalties total $189,000. View citations here*.

Sharpe Holdings employs about 300 workers at an array of businesses in northeast Missouri, including a dairy and creamery, farm, concrete plant, auto repair, welding shop, restaurants and lodging, a telecommunications company, graphic design firm and a convenience store.