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Cleaning Worker Shredded to Death at Meat Factory

Food processing can be a dangerous place to work. A man was killed after he fell into a large industrial blender and was mangled by its blades. The meat company where the accident happened is complying with officials and is deeply saddened by the passing of the employee.

Authorities found a dead cleaning worker in an industrial blender at an Oregon meat-processing plant. A co-worker managed to hit the emergency stop button on the machine but the blender had already done its work. Firefighters had to take the machine apart to extricate the mangled man.

A Clackamas County Sheriff's Office told reporters that the deceased man worked for DCS Sanitation Management, a cleaning company that has a contract with Interstate Meat Distributors.

Deputy Nate Thompson identified the worker as Hugo Avalos-Chanon, 41, of Portland. Authorities found him entangled in the machined soon after they responded to an 11:45 p.m. phone call on Friday. A worker had managed to engage the emergency stop feature on the enormous blender but by the time the button had been pressed it was too late. According to the deputy, it wasn’t until the following day when firefighters arrived to the scene to disassemble the machine and extricate the body.

A deputy state medical examiner told reporters that Avalos-Chanon was killed from "blunt-force injuries and chopping wounds."

So far, authorities do not suspect foul play in the event and are calling it a "tragic industrial accident".

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigators are examining evidence from the scene. Their job includes reviewing records and interviewing witnesses.

Last fall an OSHA report stated that they found machines that were not locked during the tear-down process for cleaning. On the report, the inspector stated that there were risks in leaving the machines unlocked, and that an "unexpected start-up of the machine" could cause injuries.

OSHA is not jumping to conclusions. Melanie Mesaros, a spokeswoman for the Oregon division told reporters.

"It's way too early to say," Mesaros told reporters during an interview. "We're just starting our investigation, which could take six months."

Typically an investigation that happen at industrial places like this one take a long time to resolve because they don’t want to jump to conclusions and blame the wrong party. They want to be certain that whoever did it is held responsible.

The president of Interstate Meat Distributors, Darrin Hoy, told reporters that the company is fully cooperating with officials and the investigation.  They are deeply saddened by what happened at their facilities and that Avalos-Chanon's death was "extremely unfortunate" and difficult event to discuss.

"We're not looking forward to reliving through any of it again," the president told reporters.

Mesaros told reporters that the agency inspected DCS Sanitation Management's operations in 2001, 2002 and 2004, and that they found zero violations.

If you are working with heavy machinery make sure to take the proper precautions to avoid personal injury.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Paul E. Lee is a personal injury lawyer interested in the safety of the community.



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