Worker's Amputation in Turkey Shackle Leads to $318,000 Fine for Jennie-O

OSHA initiated an inspection after the July 20, 2011, incident, in which the employee’s arm allegedly became caught in an energized turkey shackle line while the employee was working alone in a confined space.

OSHA has cited Jennie-O Turkey Store Inc. for 11 safety violations at its Barron, Wis., facility after a worker’s arm was amputated below the shoulder while the individual was conducting cleaning activities in a confined space. Jennie-O Turkey Store, based in Willmar, Minn., is a division of Austin, Minn.-headquartered Hormel Foods Corp. Proposed fines total $318,000.

“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. “Failing to ensure protection through appropriate training and adherence to OSHA regulations led to a worker losing an arm.”

OSHA initiated an inspection after the July 20, 2011, incident, in which the employee’s arm allegedly became caught in an energized turkey shackle line while the employee was working alone in a confined space. Afterward, the employee had to walk down a flight of 25 stairs and 200 feet across the production floor to get the attention of a co-worker for assistance.

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.

Jennie-O Turkey Store operates turkey raising and processing facilities in Minnesota and Wisconsin as well as national and international distribution systems. The company employs 1,200 workers at its Barron facility and 5,000 corporate-wide. Prior to this inspection, OSHA had inspected the Barron facility four times since 2004, resulting in citations for 12 violations.

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