Tyson Foods has agreed to pay the maximum penalty for a willful violation of an OSHA standard resulting in the death of an employee.
The company will pay $500,000 for an incident at its Texarkana, AR, plant in which maintenance employee Jason Kelley died.
Tyson’s plant recycled poultry products into animal feed. Part of the process involves high-pressure steam processors called hydrolyzers.
Decomposition of biological material produces hydrogen sulfide gas, a toxic substance. Employees at the Tyson plants often were exposed to the gas when working on or near the hydrolyzers, which required frequent adjustment and replacement.
At its Texarkana plant, Tyson hadn’t taken measures to protect employees from the gas.
On Oct. 10, 2003, Kelley was overcome with hydrogen sulfide gas while repairing a leak from a hydrolyzer. He died later. Another employee and two emergency responders were hospitalized due to exposure during the rescue attempt.
More information on the settlement agreement between Tyson and the Department of Justice is available here.