OMAHA, Neb. ‒ A federal investigation into how an employee suffered a serious hand injury at an Omaha beef processing plant in June 2023 identified more than a dozen willful and serious violations related to the company’s failures to protect its workers from numerous safety and health hazards.
Investigators with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined a worker helping a forklift operator position materials at Nebraska Beef Ltd. had their fingertip caught in the forklift attachment. This injury resulted in a medically necessitated amputation three weeks later.
While investigating the employer-reported injury, OSHA found the company failed to develop and employ lockout/tagout procedures for hydraulic dock plates and enclosures. In addition, Nebraska Beef Ltd. lacked safety procedures for material handling and exposed workers to live electrical parts.
OSHA cited the company for two willful and 11 serious violations and assessed Nebraska Beef Ltd. with $274,569 in proposed penalties.
“An employee of Nebraska Beef Ltd. suffered a permanent injury because the company knowingly ignored safety measures that are meant to prevent this very type of incident,” said OSHA Area Director Matthew Thurlby in Omaha. “The company must reassess its safety training and procedures immediately to keep other employees from suffering needless injuries.”
Specifically, OSHA found the following deficiencies in its investigation:
- Failure to isolate energy during service and maintenance of dock levelers.
- Unsafe working surfaces.
- Fall hazards on platforms and ladders.
- No readily available eye wash and drenching facility.
- Electrical hazards.
- Lack of kits to handle chemical spills.
- Improperly trained forklift operators.
- Unsafe battery maintenance.
“Nebraska’s meat-packing industry has a higher-than-average injury rate,” Thurlby added. “We continue to work with the industry and meat processing facilities to improve employee safety and we encourage employers to reach out to us for assistance in developing effective safety plans.”
Based in Omaha, Nebraska Beef Ltd. processes and distributes USDA Graded Prime, Choice and Select products for sale by grocery stores, club chains, wholesale distributors, and restaurants.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.