Beasley Allen has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Hans Owens against Perdue Farms after the defendant’s negligent actions and failure to observe proper safety protocols caused Owens’ left hand to become entrapped, cut and crushed as he was cleaning the defendant’s Chiller machine. Owens is represented by Beasley Allen’s Kendall Dunson along with Caroline Herrington and Lauren Childs of Adams, Jordan & Herrington, P.C., located in Macon, Georgia.
“Mr. Owens’ on-the-job injury is something that we see frequently and it is often the result of a business’ failure to protect its own employees and employees of other business, like Mr. Owens, who are tasked to work on the premises,” Dunson said. “In this case, Perdue Farms failed to train Mr. Owens in proper safety procedures regarding the Chiller machine and failed to install and ensure that adequate safety devices were in place to keep him and other workers safe. Regardless of the reason for the defendant’s negligent actions our client will have to pay for Perdue’s failures the rest of his life.”
In November 2018, Owens worked for QSI/Vincit, a sanitation services company that specializes in cleaning equipment for the food industry. He was cleaning the Chiller machine at the Perdue Farms facility in Lawrenceville, Georgia. The complaint explains that because Owens was not an “authorized employee,” he was not trained to lock out the power to the Chiller machine nor was he provided the lock and/or tag to turn off power to the machine. The complaint explains that “[w]hile in the process of applying the cleaning agents inside of the Chiller, the machine suddenly restarted leading to the entrapment, cutting and crush injury to [Owens’] left hand.” His fingers were severely injured by the Chiller machine’s blades and, as a result, he will be permanently disfigured with limited use of the hand for the remainder of his life.
The complaint alleges that Perdue failed “to ensure that power was isolated from the Chiller machine” and that it failed to “ensure the machine was properly guarded to prevent intentional or inadvertent exposure of persons working on, near or in the Chiller machine to prevent injury.” In doing so, Perdue “failed to observe OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] and industry health and safety standards,” directly causing Owens’ lifelong pain and suffering.
OSHA warns that compliance with the lockout/tagout standard prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. It encourages companies, especially those like Perdue with heavy, industrial manufacturing equipment, to develop, implement and enforce an energy control program, and ensure that new or overhauled equipment is capable of being locked out. The agency also advises that employees need to be trained to ensure that they know, understand, and follow the applicable provisions of the hazardous energy control procedures.
The complaint is filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Macon Division, case number 5:20-cv-00307-TES.