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Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. is facing $77,000 in fines for one repeated and one serious safety violation at its Russellville, Alabama, processing plant, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA initiated the investigation after learning that a 53-year-old machine operator suffered a severe injury as he attempted to reassemble a chicken-part separating machine.

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As he worked on the machine, it started unexpectedly and amputated the middle finger on his left hand up to the first joint.

OSHA cited Pilgrim’s Pride for failing to develop, document and train workers on the specific procedures to prevent machinery from starting up during maintenance and servicing. The employer faced previous citations for this violation in 2010 at this location.

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The serious citation relates to the employer improperly splicing electrical cords.

“This worker’s unfortunate injury at Pilgrim’s Pride could have been easily prevented. Management knew that employees were exposed to amputation hazards from machinery that could startup unexpectedly, yet they did nothing to fix the problem,” said Ramona Morris, OSHA’s area director in Birmingham. “I am disappointed that management would allow these hazards to reoccur.”

Pilgrim’s Pride is the world’s second largest chicken producer, able to process more than 34 million birds per week. The company employs 35,000 workers with operations in 12 states, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

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