Cargill Workers Suffer Burns When Explosion Erupts at Dodge City, Kansas Beef Processing Plant
Two workers were airlifted to a Wichita hospital last Thursday morning, following an explosion at a Cargill beef processing plant in Dodge City, Kansas.
Cargill Plant Explosion Heard Across Dodge City
The October 17th explosion occurred around 3:30 a.m. in a small, stand-alone building in Cargill’s main protein facility, located at 3201 East Trail Street.
The powerful blast was heard across Dodge City and strong enough to rattle nearby homes.
“I woke up to a loud boom around 3:30 this morning,” one resident told KSN.com. “I was kind of confused at what had happened, and next thing I know, I looked this morning and saw that there was an explosion.”
The injured workers were apparently the only employees onsite. While both received medical treatment for burns, Cargill has not disclosed the extent of their injuries or commented on their current condition.
The Cargill plant suspended some operations immediately after the incident, and only resumed receiving livestock yesterday.
Cargill Worker Hospitalized After September Plant Fire
The cause of the Cargill plant explosion remains under investigation.
The Dodge City facility employs about 2,700 workers and can process approximately 6,000 heads of cattle per day.
Last Thursday’s explosion was the plant’s second serious incident since September 13th, when welding sparks ignited a fire on the roof of the rendering side. One Cargill worker received treatment for smoke inhalation, but left the hospital the same day.
While the fire forced about 1,000 employees to evacuate, the facility suffered only minor damage and operations were not affected.
Cargill Dodge City Cited for Dozens of Safety Violations in 2011
In May 2011, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined the Cargill Dodge City plant more than $176,000 for two repeat and 23 serious violations that exposed workers to occupational hazards.
The repeat violations addressed a lack of machinery anchorage and improperly used flexible cords. The serious violations involved process safety management, fall protection, access and egress, lockout/tagout of energy sources, material storage, personal protective equipment, machine guarding, electrical deficiencies, compressed gas cylinders, and hazard communication.
OSHA had inspected the Cargill plant the previous November as part of an initiative targeting businesses with higher-than-average rates of injury and illness.
Trump’s Regulatory Rollbacks Endanger Meat Processing Workers
According to OSHA, meat processing workers are three times more likely to experience a serious injury on the job compared to those in other industries.
An average of 17 serious incidents, defined as those involving hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye, occur every month at meat processing plants across the United States. Amputations occur an average of twice per week, with 270 incidents recorded during a 31-week span from 2015 to 2017.
Unfortunately, these risky jobs could become even more dangerous, as the Trump administration recently announced it would allow pork processing plants to run their slaughter lines absent any speed limits.
Similar changes have also been proposed for the beef industry.
“The Trump administration is rigging the rules against our nation’s packinghouse workers and sacrificing their health to benefit narrow corporate interests,” Debbie Berkowitz, a program director at the National Employment Law Project, told NBC News last month.
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