Unsafe working conditions at Beardstown pork processing facility have led to $114,000 in proposed fines against Cargill Meat Solutions. OSHA inspectors launched an investigation of the facility after receiving a complaint regarding workplace safety violations.
OSHA officials say that lockout and tagout procedures were improperly documented before workers began to perform maintenance and servicing on carbon dioxide equipment. Lockout and tagout procedures are essential in protecting employees from unexpected energization of machinery. Employees can suffer a variety of workplace injuries when lockout/tagout procedures are ignored including amputation and death.
“Cargill has a responsibility to provide training to workers about the hazards that exist in their facilities, and to respond to safety concerns expressed by workers,” said Thomas Bielema, OSHA’s area director in Peoria. “OSHA is committed to protecting workers on the job, especially when employers fail to do so.”
Cargill’s meat processing arm is headquartered in Kansas but operates in Illinois and throughout the country. The company processes and distributes beef, pork and turkey products. About 1,800 workers are employed at the Beardstown facility.
Meat processing facility injuries are typically covered under Illinois workers’ compensation programs although some independent contractors may be able to file lawsuits directly against their employers. Employees may also be able to file so-called “third-party lawsuits” against the manufacturers of hazardous equipment in some cases.
Source: OSHA, “US Labor Department’s OSHA cites Cargill Meat Solutions for exposing workers to hazardous energy at Illinois plant, proposes $114,000 in fines,” Region 5 News Release: 12-2234-CHI, Nov. 19, 2012