On-site safety lapses not only lead to devastating employee injuries, but will also likely result in the company being subjected to an OSHA investigation and monetary penalties. Tyson Foods recently found this out when OSHA slapped them with 15 workplace safety violations and fines totaling $263,498 on August 16, 2016. The violations and subsequent fines were the result of an investigation triggered by a single incident at a Tyson processing plant. A Tyson employee, who was deboning chicken, got his finger stuck in an unguarded conveyer belt when he tried to dislodge chicken parts that were jammed in the belt. The accident resulted in the employee’s finger being amputated.
Although OSHA is typically concerned with workplace safety issues that are directly relevant to the reported incident, there is nothing to prevent its investigators from looking into and discovering other unrelated workplace safety issues. In Tyson’s case, in addition to violations directly stemming from the amputation incident, Tyson was fined for additional workplace violations, including uncovered floor drains, exits blocked by pallet loads, and potential falling hazards.
COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:
Companies must be proactive in establishing onsite safety protocols for employees, including maintaining and adhering to an Injury and Illness Prevention Program. An ill-developed safety program exposes employees to harm and companies to OSHA citations and penalties when an injury occurs. Not only that, but OSHA citations may form the basis for a serious and willful Workers’ Compensation claim or be used as evidence in a third-party civil action brought against the company if third-parties are injured. Lastly, it is important to remember that protocols and safety programs are only helpful when a company actively holds its employees accountable and remains vigilant against potential dangers. If you have any questions about whether or not your company is compliant with current OSHA regulations, consult the experts at The Saqui Law Group.