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OSHA cites chicken plant after worker loses part of finger

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A Chicago-based poultry processing facility has been cited for five workplace safety violations after a worker lost part of his right middle finger while clearing a paper jam in April.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors found the machine lacked adequate safety guards to protect the employee from dangerous moving parts — locking devices to prevent the machine from operating while clearing the paper jam, the agency said in a news release issued on Thursday. Park Ridge, Illinois-based Koch Foods Inc. — doing business as Aspen Foods Inc. — had previously been cited for this violation in a final order issued in March 2014, according to the citations.

The agency also issued four serious violations for failing to post essential information explaining the use of locking devices to prevent machines from operating and not training employees on safety procedures to prevent exposure to operating parts, according to the citations.

“This worker permanently lost part of his finger because his employer failed to follow basic safety procedures for preventing machine operation during service and maintenance — procedures it was certainly aware of after its recent citation,” Kathy Webb, OSHA's area director in Calumet City, Illinois, said in the statement. “It is disheartening to cite an employer repeatedly for hazards they know are exposing workers to life-altering injuries like this.”

OSHA has proposed total penalties of $52,500, according to the citations.

A company spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.