Cargill division cited for exposing workers to hazardous energy

By Joe Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Meat Carbon dioxide

Cargill Meat Solutions has been hit with $114,000 in proposed fines after failing to protect workers from unexpected start-up of machines at its Beardstown pork processing facility in Illinois.

The US Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited the firm for three safety violations after receiving a complaint alleging hazards.

OSHA inspected the site from 30 May to 14 September but only issued the findings last week.

Cargill Meat Solutions, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, is a processor and distributor of fresh beef, pork, turkey, and cooked and marinated meats, employing about 1,800 workers at its Beardstown facility.

Brands include Angus Pride, Excel, Shady Brook Farms, Circle T Beef and Stoneside pork.

OSHA findings

The willful violation is directing workers to perform maintenance and servicing on carbon dioxide equipment without first documenting lockout and tagout procedures designed to prevent unexpected energization, said OSHA, proposing a $70,000 fine for this violation.

“…employees were exposed to hazardous energy when performing servicing and maintenance tasks on the New Butina CO2​ Stunner and push gates because the energy control procedures did not outline specific procedural steps for shutting down and securing machinery, placing and removing lockout or tagout devices, and provide a specific means to verify that the equipment was isolated from all energy sources prior to work on the equipment.”

One repeat violation is failing to train workers who operate equipment on procedures to properly control hazardous energy, with a similar violation was cited in May 2009 at the company's Nebraska City, Nebraska facility.
A serious violation, with $5,500 proposed fines, is failing to document and certify periodic inspections of lockout procedures for an older model of carbon dioxide equipment.

Training responsibility

“Cargill has a responsibility to provide training to workers about the hazards that exist in their facilities, and to respond to safety concerns expressed by workers​," said Thomas Bielema, OSHA's area director in Peoria. "

Earlier this year, Cargill Beef, a business unit of Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation, announced an immediate Class I recall of 29,339 pounds of 85%-lean, fresh, ground beef produced at the company's Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, facility on 25 May due to possible contamination from Salmonella​Enteritidis.

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