The US Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Tyson Foods for seven safety violations with proposed penalties totalling $104,200 at the beef processing site.
The incident occurred when the mechanic was performing maintenance work while the plant was not in operation, beneath a piece of equipment that had been secured in an elevated position by a chain and quick link, but the chain failed and the equipment crushed the worker.
US media named the man as Rodney Bridgett.
Ineffective equipment inspections
A willful violation was cited for ineffective periodic safety equipment inspections and failing to make necessary modifications to the worker safety protection process through the inspections.
"It is unthinkable that an employer would allow workers in and around dangerous operations without ensuring that sufficient safeguards are in place," said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City, Missouri.
"All employers must take the necessary steps to eliminate hazards from the workplace. OSHA is committed to protecting workers on the job, especially when employers fail to do so."
Five serious violations included failing to provide protective equipment for working with chemicals, use tags when lockout devices are not available for equipment and use suitable energy isolation devices for the work environment.
An other-than-serious violation was for failing to have a competent person certify the hazard assessment.
A spokesman from Tyson Foods told FoodProductionDaily.com: "We're reviewing the citations and will work cooperatively with OSHA to resolve the agency's concerns.
"The safety of our people is very important to us and we want to make sure accidents like this are prevented in the future."
Tyson Foods is headquartered in Springdale, Arkansas and is one of the largest processors and marketers of chicken, beef and pork.
The company employs about 115,000 workers at more than 400 facilities around the world.
Tyson has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, meet with OSHA's area director in Omaha, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.