Company fined after employee's hand injured in meat tenderizer

Company fined after employee's hand injured in meat tenderizer
Oregon OSHA issued this photo of the meat tenderizer along with a press release about the fine.

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - An employee's hand got pulled into a meat tenderizing machine at Bright Oaks Meat Inc. last August.

"Two fingers were severely fractured and cuts to her hand required 60 stitches," Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division reports.

Now the state agency has fined the company $7,850 for what the agency calls a "wilfull" safety violation.

"The guard for the Hobart tenderizer had been removed and a safety interlock had been over ridden to operate the equipment without the guard," according to the citation.

The company said the employee will be returning to work and issued the following statement Thursday:

Our table top cubing machine had a poorly designed factory issued safety guard. This guard easily breaks and has been replaced multiple times.

An employee at our Wholesale processing plant broke safety protocol and we regret she was injured.  She will be returning to work.

We have had a custom metal guard fabricated and there will be NO FUTURE instances.

Oregon OSHA said the accident happend August 3. The agency had the facility inspected August 12.
That report found that the injured worker, who had been employed at Bright Oaks Meat for about a year, never used the machine with the guard, Oregon OSHA said.

Oregon OSHA also cited the business for failing to report an overnight hospitalization to Oregon OSHA within 24 hours, as well as the lack of a safety committee.

"This employer consciously neglected a safety measure that could have prevented the injury," said Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood. "There is no reason for an employer to decide it can simply disregard the rules."

The inspection revealed the guard had been missing for two years before the accident, and no effort was made to replace it, Oregon OSHA said.

A willful violation, where an employer intentionally or knowingly allows a violation to occur, can result in a $70,000 penalty.

Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, said the agency issued a lower penalty because the business is a small employer and the violation was unlikely to cause the death of a worker.