JBS Fined After Conveyer Belt Amputation

The incident was just the latest in a series of safety issues at the plant.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently informed meatpacking giant JBS USA that it was levying fines of $175,000 against the company after an employee at its beef factory in Greeley, Colorado, had an arm amputated by a conveyor belt.

The OSHA report, sent to JBS on Aug. 17, detailed five safety violations at the factory, which does business as Swift Beef Company. During the end of a shift clean-up task, a 37-year-old employee was cleaning a conveyor belt when he reached for product that fell off it — after removing a plastic sleeve that prevents smock sleeves from dangling near danger zones — when he became caught in the drive sprockets of the conveyor, resulting in the amputation of his left arm.

The Denver Post quoted the president of the employee's union, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, saying, “He was working alone when his arm got caught in the machinery and it pulled him in. He was there for a period of time screaming for help."

OSHA gave JBS until Sept. 20 to correct the violations at the plant, and the Post noted a statement from the company indicating it has taken steps to do so. The citations identified three serious violations, one willful-serious violation, and one other-than-serious violation.

“Our sympathies go out to our team member who was impacted during this accident,” the statement read, according to the Post. “As a result of the incident, we conducted a full-plant safety audit, including a comprehensive review of machine guarding and related abatements, and enlisted a third-party expert to review our health and safety training and protocols.”

The Post noted several additional recent fines against the same JBS factory. OSHA records showed fines of $27,000 after a worker was lacerated by a kicking cow, and $26,000 after finding employees were spraying 180-degree water without proper protection. Those fines were levied on Aug. 2.

A year ago, OSHA fined the same Greeley plant almost $16,000 for failing to protect employees against COVID-19 after six employees died from the virus and nearly 300 were infected.

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