May 13, 2014 Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH 0Comment

[Update below]

Ricardo Ramos, 49 suffered fatal traumatic injuries on Saturday May 10 while working at a meat processing plant located near Zeeland, Michigan. Garrett Ellison with MLive provides some initial information on Ramos’ death.

  • The facility is operated by Hillshire Brands. Workers there make Jimmy Dean sausage.
  • Ramos was working on the overnight shift. He was part of the crew that cleans and sanitizes the facility, including the equipment and conveyors. A co-worker said Ramos was pulled into a piece of machinery.
  • Ramos’ wife said her husband was working overtime to pay the household bills. He leaves behind three daughters age 10 years, 7 years, and 11 months.

Michigan OSHA (MIOSHA) will conduct an inspection of the plant. If the agency’s inspectors identify violations of health or safety regulations, the company will be cited. In 2006, MIOSHA conducted a partial inspection of the Hillshire Brands’ Zeeland plant. No citations were issued.

Each year, more than 100 workers in Michigan are fatally injured on-the-job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 137 work-related fatalities in Michigan during 2012 (most recent available data.) Nationwide, at least 4,628 workers suffer fatal traumatic injuries.

The AFL-CIO’s annual Death on the Job report notes:

  • MIOSHA has 63 inspectors to cover more than 240,000 workplaces.
  • MIOSHA’s average penalty for a serious violation is $542.

MIOSHA has until mid-November to issue any citations and penalties related to the incident that stole Ricardo Ramos’ life.  It’s likely they’ll determine that Hillshire Brands’ safety program was inadequate and Ramos’ death was preventable. It was no “accident.”

[Update December 10, 2014: Read a follow-up post reporting on MIOSHA’s findings.]



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