December 10, 2014 Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH 0Comment

Ricardo Ramos’ work-related death could have been prevented. That’s how I see the findings of Michigan OSHA in the agency’s citations against his employer, Hillshire Brands. The 49-year-old was working in May 2014 on the overnight cleaning crew at the company’s Zeeland, Michigan plant when he was caught and pulled into a piece of machinery. The facility prepares and packages Jimmy Dean sausage. I wrote about the incident shortly after it was reported by local press.

Inspectors with Michigan OSHA conducted an inspection at the Hillshire plant following Ramos’ death. The agency recently issued citations to the firm for two serious violations and proposed a $12,600 penalty. The violations involve failing to ensure that when machinery is being repaired or cleaned that the power is locked off (408.11412(3)), and guarding of machine shafting (408.10722(1)).

While the post-fatality inspection was ongoing, MIOSHA received a referral from a credible source about other safety hazards at the plant. The company was again cited for not having or using proper lockout/tagout procedures. The violation was classified as serious and a $4,500 penalty has been proposed. Hillshire Brands has contested all the citations issued in the wake of Ricardo Ramos’ death.

When some local press initially reported Ricardo Ramos’ death, they called it an accident. An “accident” suggests the circumstances were unforeseen or could not have been avoided. Michigan OSHA’s findings tell a different story. Call it cutting corners, call it poor management, call it breaking the law. Whatever you want to call it, Ricardo Ramos’ work-related death could have been prevented, it was no accident.

 

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