Tyson Foods has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for two repeated and 15 serious safety violations at its poultry plant in Center, Texas.

OSHA inspectors went to the plant to respond to a report of a finger amputation, and while inspecting the facility, discovered the other alleged violations. The worker lost the finger when it became stuck in an unguarded conveyor belt while he was working in the deboning area and tried to remove chicken parts that were stuck in the belt, according to OSHA.

OSHA inspectors also found more than a dozen alleged serious violations including failing to ensure proper safety guards on moving machine parts, allowing carbon dioxide levels above the permissible exposure limit, failing to provide personal protective equipment and not training employees on hazards associated with peracetic acid. Used as a disinfectant, the acid can cause burns and respiratory illness if not handled safely.

Inspectors also allegedly found employees exposed to slip-and-fall hazards due to a lack of proper drainage, trip-and-fall hazards caused by recessed drains and fire hazards resulting from of improper stored compressed gas cylinders.  

OSHA cited the company for repeated violations for not making sure employees used appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards. The agency cited Tyson Foods for a similar violation in a 2012 investigation at its Carthage, Texas, facility. The company also failed to separate compressed gas cylinders of oxygen and acetylene while in storage - a violation for which OSHA cited the company in 2013 at its Albertville, Alabama, facility.

The citations carry with them $263,498 in proposed fines.

Tyson Foods responds to allegations

In response to the citations, Tyson Foods released the following statement: “We never want to see anyone hurt on the job, which is why we’re committed to continual improvement in our workplace safety efforts. We fully cooperated with OSHA’s inspection of our Center plant and intend to meet with OSHA officials in an effort to resolve these claims.

“Our company employs almost 500 health and safety professionals who are involved in such areas as safety training, safety audits, ergonomics and health care. We also have programs and policies to help protect our employees.”

Tyson Foods has 15 business days to request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director to resolve the claims. The citations carry with them $263,498 in proposed fines.