A CLOSER LOOK: OSHA has active inspections at several Tyson plants

A Closer Look

May 1, 2020, file photo, a sign sits in front of the Tyson Foods plant in Waterloo, Iowa. A group of worker advocacy organizations has filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture alleging that meat processing companies Tyson and JBS have engaged in workplace racial discrimination during the coronavirus pandemic. The complaint says the operating procedures have a discriminatory impact on mostly Black, Latino, and Asian workers. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, file)

ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has 11 active inspections at Tyson plants in Arkansas.

These are open cases and details could not be released surrounding the situation, according to the Department of Labor’s Office of Public Affairs.

Ten of the OSHA inspections are listed as FAT/CAT, short for Fatality/Catastrophe.

  1. Fatality. An employee death resulting from a work-related incident or exposure; in general, from an accident or an illness caused by or related to a workplace hazard.
  2. Catastrophe. The hospitalization of three or more employees resulting from a work-related incident or exposure; in general, from an accident or an illness caused by a workplace hazard.

An OSHA directive explains how this type of case should be investigated. It includes interviewing witnesses, how to deal with family members of victims, documenting, recording and tracking investigations, pre- and post-citations, and audit procedures. “This instruction emphasizes the importance of a fatality/catastrophe investigation because of its complexity and its value for assisting the Agency in building a database which can be of use in preventing future fatalities and catastrophes,” the edict states.

Here’s what we know about the active cases:

Tyson Poultry, Inc., on Elm Street in Rogers, has four inspections, all are listed as “fatality/catastrophe.” Two were opened on June 22, 2020, and two on July 7, 2020. These cases all have different identification numbers.

Tyson Poultry, Inc., on Randall Wobbe Lane and W. Oaklawn Drive, both in Springdale, has “fatality/catastrophe” OSHA cases. Both were opened on July 6, 2020.

Tyson Poultry, Inc., at S. 28th Street in Van Buren, has three open inspections listed as “fatality/catastrophe.” One case was opened on June 26, 2020, and two cases were open on July 6, 2020.

Tyson Foods, Inc., at Freeman Ave. in Berryville, has an OSHA inspection listed as “fatality/catastrophe.” The case was opened on June 10, 2020.

Tyson Poultry, Inc., on Cassady Street in Nashville, Arkansas, has an active inspection that is listed as “referral.” The case was initiated on July 10, 2020.

OSHA has six type of priority inspections:

  • Imminent Danger
  • Employee injuries, illnesses or deaths
  • Worker complaints
  • Federal, state or local hazard referrals
  • Targeted inspections
  • Follow-up inspections

An online search from April 30, 2020, to August 5, 2020, reveals 17 Tyson locations nationally have active OSHA inspections.

  • Lexington, NE 7/28/2020. “Other” listed as inspection type
  • Sanford, NC 7/24/2020. Fatality/Catastrophe
  • Waterloo, IA 6/30/2020. Referral/Amputate
  • Metter, GA 6/30/2020. Planned
  • Noel, MO 6/24/2020. Fatality/Catastrophe
  • Logansport, IN 6/23/2020. Referral/Safety
  • Dallas, TX 6/15/2020. Fatality/Catastrophe (Accident)
  • Sherman, TX 6/10/2020. Fatality/Catastrophe (Referral, Accident, Complaint)
  • Monroe, NC 6/8/2020. Fatality/Catastrophe (Accident)
  • Wilkesboro, NC 6/3/2020. Fatality/Catastrophe (Accident)
  • Storm Lake, IA 6/1/2020. Referral
  • Sherman, TX 5/29/2020. Referral (Complaint, Accident)
  • Perry, IA 5/26/2020. Referral
  • Madison, NE 5/18/20. Referral
  • Corydon, IN 5/13/2020. Referral (Amputate)
  • Dakota City, NE 5/7/2020. Fatality/Catastrophe (Accident)
  • Dakota City, NE 5/5/2020. Fatality/Catastrophe (Accident)

Tyson enforcement cases with initial penalties of $40,000 or more

  • Tyson Foods, Berry St. Springdale, AR: 12/31/19. $53,040. This involves a hazard of hand/eye/face protection. It was a fatality/catastrophe inspection. Violations are under contest.
  • Tyson Foods, Dexter MO: $84,391, 3/7/2019. Control of hazardous energy. Violations are under contest.
  • Tyson Chicken, Calhoun KY: $70,000, 11/20/18. Violations involve falling object protection. Violations are under contest.
  • Tyson Fresh Meats, Holcomb KS: $38,802, 6/13/2018. Employee’s fingers contacted the saw blade causing a laceration to his hand and bone, and he was hospitalized. Case closed.
  • Tyson Foods, South Hutchinson KS: $66,407, 12/5/17. The employee was painting pipes when a scissor lift struck and ruptured a pipe, releasing anhydrous ammonia gas/vapor. The employee was hospitalized. Case closed.
  • Tyson Foods, Center TX: $116,360, 10/5/2017. Violations were for maintenance, safeguards, and operational features for exit routes. There was a formal settlement, case closed.
  • Tyson Foods, Center TX: $204,445. 6/26/2017. Violations for respiratory protection, air contaminants, eye/face protection, medical services. There was a formal settlement, case closed.
  • Tyson Foods, Center TX: $69,713, 4/28/2017. The employee was preparing to unclog a drain. While using a band saw to cut the pipe he amputated his right thumb. Case closed.

OSHA NATIONAL STATISTICS

  • 2,100 inspectors (including state partners)
  • Oversees 130 million workers employed at 8 million worksites
  • FY 2019 Budget: $557,787,000
  • FY 2018 Federal inspections: 32,020
  • FY 2018 State plan inspections: 40,003
  • Worker fatalities: 5,250 workers died on the job 2018

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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