The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited meatpacking company JBS Foods Inc. in connection with the death of an employee at its Greeley plant.

According to an official news release via the OSHA website, one of the nation's largest meat and pork suppliers has been cited – again, for exposing employees to safety hazards at its Greeley facilities, this time following the death of a worker who was installing a paddlewheel.

55-year-old Jonathan Duerst died while he was installing a paddlewheel at the JBS Greeley plant on March 27, 2021.

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Duerst had been attempting to install a paddlewheel used to churn chemicals to process animal hides. The paddlewheel along with the trolley and hoist used to lift it fell, and the employee fell into an oval vat that contained the harmful chemicals.

OSHA investigators responded to the March 27 incident and determined that JBS failed to adequately secure a paddlewheel; as a result of the incident, OSHA cited JBS Foods Inc. – operating as Swift Beef Co. – for eight serious violations related to the unsafe lifting process, and for hazardous chemical and training violations.

JBS faces $58,709 in proposed penalties following this investigation, as per the news release. 

It was just last month that JBS was cited several times and fined $175,000 in connection with multiple incidents - one in which a worker’s arm had to be amputated, a second in which a worker was lacerated while removing hides, and a third in which an employee had been exposed to a thermal burn hazard.

As a result, OSHA cited the company for 11 serious violations, including failing to ensure proper machine guarding and not implementing safe process procedures.

“Injuries are all too common for workers in the meat processing industry, but most are preventable when required safety and health regulations are followed,” said OSHA Area Director Amanda Kupper in Denver.

“At the height of the pandemic, food processing industry workers helped feed our nation and keep our economy moving. The employees at this facility deserve better than to fear for their lives and their safety when they come to work.”

The news release states that JBS now has 15 business days from receipt of citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings of this report before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

We have reached out to JBS and are awaiting a statement.

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