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Kansas Tyson plant where worker lost arm hit with heavy fine

Pittsburg employers are required to carry insurance in case an employee is injured while on the job. State companies are permitted to self-insure or obtain workers' compensation coverage through a private insurance carrier. In most cases, employers are insulated from liability lawsuits over employee injuries or deaths.

A Tyson Foods plant in south central Kansas has been placed on the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration's watch list. OSHA said the Hutchinson plant's willful violation of federal workplace safety rules caused an employee to lose half his arm.

A 51-year-old man, one of 150 workers at the Hutchinson Tyson plant, was seriously injured in June when the clothes he was wearing were pulled in to the gears of a machine. The employee's arm had to be amputated from the elbow down after the limb was mangled.

OSHA recorded seven serious safety violations at the Tyson Foods Kansas plant over a decade. Four additional violations were added at a recent inspection.

The company apparently took down railings that protected employees from being dragged in to activated equipment. Tyson also failed to have lockout systems to prevent accidental machine operation and neglected to train workers to use the systems.

Federal regulators attached a $147,000 fine for Tyson's intentional safety violations. The company can pay the fine or dispute OSHA's recommendation.

The Kansas plant was added to OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, joining other companies charged with repeat or deliberate violations of safety laws. The agency now has the right to inspect any Tyson facility, where unsafe working conditions are suspected.

Workers' compensation benefits are paid to workplace accident victims and families of employees who die at work. A personal injury attorney will explain the complex rules of workers' compensation and make sure a claim is properly prepared to avoid benefits' delays or a claim denial.

Source: Kansas City Star, "OSHA cites Kansas Tyson Foods plant for violations, including one that led to severed hand" The Associated Press, Dec. 18, 2013

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