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Marion Beef Jerky Plant Sued by OSHA

A former beef jerky plant in Marion was sued by workplace safety officials. The case was sparked by an incident at the plant when an employee was punished by being fired after she called 911 in response to a fellow colleague being injured on the job.

The lawsuit was filed against Lone Star Western Beef Inc. on Thursday, 29th December 2016 by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

What Happened

According to court records and the lawsuit filed in Clarksburg District Court on July 7 2014, Michele Butler, an employee of the beef jerky plant, heard Chris Crane say that he had cut his finger. Seeing a lot of blood running down Crane’s arm, she figured that the injury was more serious than what Crane was thinking of it to be. While Michele Butler-Savage went to assist her co-worker, another worker went to fetch John Bachman, the owner of Loner Star Western Beef Inc. The documents also state that Savage called 911 from her personal phone after helping Crane run his hand under cold water and slowed the blood with paper towels. The call went through the same time Bachman arrived on the scene, which was when he told Savage to hang up.

Crane’s Severed Thumb

The lawsuit dictated that Bachman instructed everyone to get back to work, picked up the severed piece of Crane’s thumb, and instructed Kay Davis, the supervisor, to drive Crane to an urgent care clinic. The clinic then transferred the patient to a hospital emergency room in an ambulance. In the end, the severed piece of thumb could not be reattached.

Chris Crane was operating a band saw to cut beef as a line worker which cut his thumb. According to Savage, nothing was done to clean the area where Crane’s blood was spilled which had not only spurted on the floor, but also on the walls, work area, and the sink in the beef processing area. The piece of meat that was being cut by Crane at the time he severed his thumb was the only thing discarded. The same day, Savage informed the United States Department of Agriculture about her concerns. On this, she was fired two days later, forcing her to approach OSHA with her complaint.

OSHA’s news release shows that the lawsuit against Bachman Savage asks him to compensate for lost wages and provide appropriate relief for the pain, suffering, emotional distress and punitive damages. It was also filed because employers are not allowed to retaliate when employees bring to light various concerns to the government or the employer.

The regional administrator of Philadelphia for OSHA released a statement, calling Savage’s attitude as being against “basic human decency” and that no one should be afraid, especially from an employer, to call 911 to help a co-worker in an emergency.       

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