The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Denver area office announced employer citations in separate worker fatalities. OSHA cited JBS Foods’ Swift Beef Co. facility in Greeley, Colorado, for eight serious violations related to an unsafe lifting process and for hazardous chemical and training violations following the death of a worker who was installing a paddlewheel. The agency is seeking $58,709 in proposed penalties.
The agency also inspected Shelton Land and Cattle Ltd, doing business as Shelton Dairy Corp., following the death of a 44-year-old worker who drowned when the vacuum truck he was driving entered an unguarded manure holding pit. OSHA cited the company for failure to implement measures to protect employees from drowning or crushing hazards, the lack of a hazard communication program, and failure to train workers on hazardous chemicals in the workplace. OSHA is seeking $24,575 in proposed penalties.
Swift Beef fatality
OSHA inspectors responded to a March 27 incident at the Swift Beef facility and determined that JBS failed to adequately secure a paddlewheel being installed to churn chemicals used in processing animal hides. The paddlewheel, along with the trolley and hoist used to lift it, fell. An employee fell into an oval vat that contained hazardous chemicals.
OSHA cited JBS for serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s General Duty Clause; the hazard communication, hexavalent chromium, and overhead hoists standards; and the requirement to provide U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets or buoyant work vests for employees working over or near water.
The fatality occurred after several other incidents at the same facility, according to OSHA, including a JBS worker who suffered an arm amputation after being pulled into a conveyor belt, another worker who suffered laceration injuries while removing a hide, and a third worker who was exposed to a thermal burn hazard.
“Injuries are all too common for workers in the meat processing industry, but most are preventable when required safety and health regulations are followed,” Denver Area Director Amanda Kupper said in an agency statement.
“At the height of the pandemic, food processing industry workers helped feed our nation and keep our economy moving,” Kupper continued. “The employees at this facility deserve better than to fear for their lives and their safety when they come to work.”
JBS Foods, headquartered in Greeley, is a world leader in beef, poultry, and pork production, according to OSHA, with operations in the United States, Australia, and Canada. JBS Foods is a wholly owned subsidiary of JBS S.A., which is based in Brazil and is the world’s largest processor of fresh beef and pork.
Dairy farm drowning death
OSHA investigators inspected Shelton Land and Cattle following a March 30 incident at its LaSalle, Colorado, dairy farm. Inspectors learned that a driver was offloading manure when the truck drove into a 12-foot-deep pit, trapping the worker inside the submerged cab. The worker died the following day in a nearby hospital.
“Manure pits are known hazards in dairy farming operations,” Kupper said in another statement. “If required guarding had been installed, this worker’s life could have been spared.”
Shelton Land and Cattle operates a dairy farm with about 2,800 heads of cattle and 65 employees, according to the agency.