Prior, less serious safety violations often foreshadow future, more tragic events. They did in the case of an employee who met his death in a meat blender.
Hugo Avalos Chanon, 41, was cleaning the large blender at Interstate Meat Distributors, a meat processing plant in Clackamas, OR, when he fell into the machine. Another worker hit an emergency stop switch, but it was too late: Chanon was already dead.
He was an employee of DCS Sanitation Management. DCS employees were cleaning the Interstate facility at the time of the worker’s death in the meat blender.
While Oregon OSHA’s (OROSHA’s) investigation of both Interstate and DCS is ongoing, any safety pro can see the possible cause of this death: The machine wasn’t turned off, let alone locked out, while it was being cleaned.
Interstate had been inspected previously by OROSHA. In February of this year, OROSHA issued several citations to Interstate, including one for not effectively supervising employees to ensure procedures for controlling hazardous energy were implemented. Three machines weren’t locked out during a tear down process, and employees were exposed to the potential unexpected start-up of the machines which had the potential to cause serious injuries to fingers and hands.
An Interstate employee also lost a finger in an incident.
Among other previous Interstate OSHA violations were exposing employees to potential:
- electric shock because of an exposed electrical panel
- finger and hand injuries because the point of operation wasn’t guarded on a rotating saw blade, and
- catastrophic failure and fire hazard from filling propane cylinders that didn’t have the required requalification once they reach 12 years old.
Protecting temporary workers
Just days after the incident that killed Chanon, federal OSHA announced an initiative to protect temporary workers, including those who work, like Chanon, on a contract basis.
Fatal work injuries involving contractors accounted for 12% of the 4,693 fatal work injuries reported in 2011.
OSHA sent a memo to its regional administrators directing field inspectors to assess whether employers who use temporary workers are complying with their responsibilities to protect them. Inspectors will use a new code in their information system to denote when temporary workers are exposed to safety and health violations.
State OSHAs are not required to follow these types of programs but are encouraged to do so.