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Arm Amputation Leads to Hefty Fines for Jennie-O

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Jennie-O Turkey Store Inc. has been fined heftily for numerous safety violations at their Barron, Wisconsin facility that led to the amputation of a worker’s arm. In July 2011, a worker’s arm was caught in a machine in a confined space and was amputated. The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration{: target="_blank"} (OSHA) fined the company $318,000 after finding 11 safety violations, including four willful violations and seven serious violations. Jennie-O is a division of Hormel Foods Corporation.

Allegedly, an employee was working alone in an enclosed space when his arm was caught in an energized turkey shackle line. After the employee’s arm was severed, the employee had to walk down a flight of 25 stairs and across 200 feet of the production floor to reach a co-worker for assistance. Before this incident and inspection, the Barron facility had been inspected multiple times since 2004, resulting in citations for 12 violations. Mark Hysell, the local OSHA director, said: “Jennie-O Turkey Store has a legal responsibility to follow established permit-required confined space regulations to ensure that its employees are properly protected from known workplace hazards. Failing to ensure protection through appropriate training and adherence to OSHA regulations led to a worker losing an arm.”

The willful violations included not following confined space regulations, failing to provide an attendant during entry to the room, and failing to verify that electro-mechanical and atmospheric hazards were not present in the room before employee entrance. The serious violations include not providing fall protection, failure to make sure that the entry supervisor performed the necessary duties, and not having the following:

  • rescue and emergency services equipment;
  • proper emergency procedures;
  • confined space entry procedures;
  • entry permits for confined spaces; and
  • training for employees and supervisors on entry permit procedures. 

Negligence and violations by an employer can put employees at risk for injury or even death.  Workers have a right to a safe workplace and are entitled to certain protections if injured. Employers often contest workers’ compensation claims, trying to dispel claims that injuries happened at work or that it was not the employee’s fault. If you or a loved one is injured at the workplace, contact an experienced Atlanta workers' compensation lawyerto ensure that your rights are protected and you get the benefits you deserve. Contact us today for a risk-free, no-cost case evaluation.