An Alabama worker was reportedly decapitated Tuesday, March 3, while cleaning industrial equipment inside the Tyson Foods-owned Keystone chicken processing plant.
Carlos Lynn, 39, worked for PSSI, a sanitation services company that specializes in cleaning equipment for the food industry.
Barbour County, Alabama, coroner Chip Chapman said Mr. Lynn was cleaning a piece of equipment called a chiller inside the Keystone plant when the accident occurred just before 5 p.m., according to Columbus, Georgia’s WRBL. The cause of death was decapitation.
“He got caught in a pinch-point” of the equipment, Mr. Chapman said, according to WRBL.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines a pinch-point as a point at which it is possible for a person to be caught between the moving parts of a machine, between the moving and stationary parts of a machine, or between moving parts of the machine and other object or material.
Tyson Foods, the second-largest meat processor in the world after Brazil’s JBS S.A., completed its acquisition of Keystone Foods in November 2018.
Neither the company nor investigating authorities have provided additional details about the accident, which will likely remain under investigation for some time.
“We’re investigating an accident at our Eufaula, Alabama facility yesterday that involved a worker employed by an outside contractor and will provide more information when we can,” Tyson said in a statement about the accident. “We’re grateful for the swift response and assistance of local emergency personnel.”
Some of the safety hazards OSHA investigators usually look for in workplace accidents include improper lockout/tagout practices and procedures to prevent industrial equipment from accidentally powering on while workers service, maintain, or clean the machinery.
It’s likely investigators will also look at how well the companies involved trained and prepared the worker to clean the equipment, such as familiarizing him with the potential hazards of the machine.
In addition to dangerous equipment and decapitation risks, OSHA recognizes that there are a multitude of other serious safety and health hazards in the poultry processing industry. These hazards include exposure to high noise levels, slippery floors, musculoskeletal disorders, and exposure to hazardous chemicals, among others.
Beasley Allen handles a variety of cases related to workplace safety. While all workers should be guaranteed a safe working environment, all too often we handle cases of serious injuries and deaths resulting from a hazardous work environment. Many times our investigation reveals defective or dangerous machinery was involved. If you need more information, contact Kendall Dunson or Evan Allen, lawyers in our Personal Injury & Products Liability Section who handle workplace litigation for our firm.