Tyson Foods Factories Saw Nearly 2 Worker Amputations Per Month

A Missouri worker lost both hands in one incident
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2016 2:34 PM CST
Tyson Foods Factories Saw Nearly 2 Worker Amputations Per Month
Tyson Foods reported nearly two worker amputations per month at just a handful of its factories to start 2015.   (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)

The largest meat producer in America averaged nearly two worker amputations per month in its factories to start 2015. And that's likely just the tip of the iceberg. Celeste Monforton, a professor of occupational health, requested federal injury reports for Tyson Foods for the first nine months of 2015, BuzzFeed reports. What she found is the stuff of nightmares. According to Monforton's blog, 17 amputations were reported at 10 Tyson meat processing plants during those months. One Arkansas employee lost the tip of a finger to an "impeller." An employee in Nebraska lost three fingers to a "skinner." And one poor Missouri employee lost both hands to an "auger." "The names of these tools tell just part of the story of why these amputations occurred," Monforton writes. "Their names, however, provide more than an inkling about the physical demands of these jobs."

Monforton decided to look into the injuries because of a new Occupational Health and Safety Agency rule that went into effect at the start of 2015, Iowa Public Radio reports. It requires companies to report all work-related amputations or hospitalizations within 24 hours. Experts have long considered OSHA data on injuries within the meat industry to be underreported by up to 70% for a variety of reasons. Employers were in charge of reporting the data, OSHA didn't verify it, workers were punished for reporting injuries, and so on. And the problem is likely even worse than what Monforton's numbers show. Ten states with Tyson factories have their own OSHA programs and weren't included in the tally, not to mention the factories of other major meat producers. (A slaughterhouse allegedly swapped cancerous cow heads for healthy ones to fool inspectors.)

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