Posted August 16, 2016
Today, OSHA leveled $263,000 in fines for dangerous working conditions that can lead to disfiguring injuries against Tyson Foods, the nation’s largest poultry company. Following is a statement from Debbie Berkowitz, health and safety expert at the National Employment Law Project:
“The National Employment Law Project commends OSHA’s focus on fixing the dangerous, degrading and immoral conditions in the nation’s poultry industry. With these citations, OSHA has found that the nation’s leading poultry company is dangerously cutting corners on worker safety.
“OSHA found serious dangers, including machines without basic safety protections, workers exposed to the hazards of falling objects, floor holes, dangerous catwalks and unsafe storage of dangerous chemicals. In addition to Tyson’s not taking basic safety precautions, OSHA also found that the chemicals the company is widely using throughout the plant—to repeatedly bathe the chickens to prevent pathogen contamination—are endangering workers.
“Tyson Foods should be an industry leader in protecting workers, but instead it has chosen to sacrifice the health of the nation’s most vulnerable workers, who work hard jobs in a harsh environment, for cheap chicken and greater profits.”
OSHA’s inspection was prompted by yet another gruesome injury in the Tyson Foods plant in Center, Texas. OSHA found 17 serious and repeat violations in the plant—violations due to hazards that can cause burns, serious health hazards, amputations and other serious injuries. OSHA initiated the inspection following the second amputation suffered by a worker in this plant in four months.
This is also the third set of citations OSHA has issued to the plant in Center, Texas since April. The second set of citations was issued this summer, following an investigation into an earlier amputation, where a worker lost a finger due to unsafe conditions.
Tyson Foods is the largest poultry company in the United States and controls 23 percent of the market. It achieved record earnings this year. For the three months ending January 2, 2016, Tyson reported a profit of $461 million, or $1.15 cents a share, up from $309 million, or 74 cents a share, a year earlier.
These citations come on the heels of a groundbreaking OSHA citation issued to the nation’s second leading poultry company, Pilgrim’s Pride, which was cited for the dangerous and inhumane practice of denying and deferring medical care to injured workers.