Yet another worker at the Pilgrim’s Pride poultry plant in Guntersville has been injured. This time, a fall claimed the life of 35-year-old Gabriel “Seth” Brutley.
According to reports, Brutley was riding a material lift on January 6 when he fell.
National Employment Law Project representative Debbie Berkowitz said the plant was one of those the USDA allowed to increase its line speeds.
NELP has been trying to stop speed increases at chicken processing plants since these facilities already have above-average rates of employee injuries.
Berkowitz said records from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration show four workers suffered serious injuries at the Guntersville plant since 2016. None of these injuries turned out to be fatal.
In February 2016, a worker lost the tip of his thumb when a piece of equipment unexpectedly activated as he was taking a product off the test line. The company was fined by OSHA for violating safety standards.
Then, in July 2017, another employee fractured his left hip when he tripped over the leg of a stand. He had to be hospitalized but this injury did not trigger an OSHA inspection.
Early in 2018, a piece of equipment amputated the thumb of a worker while he was replacing the chain on a machine. He too was hospitalized. The injury was reported to OSHA, but the entity did not inspect the facility.
However, after an October ammonia leak triggered a fire and evacuation, inspectors returned in March 2019. They identified two serious violations and fined Pilgrim’s Pride $13,000.
Meanwhile, less than three months before the incident involving Brutley, a worker fell eight feet. He broke his left wrist and elbow and suffered a head injury that required hospitalization. No inspection followed.
The investigation into Brutley’s death could take months.
If you or a loved one suffered a work injury, seek help from a Montgomery workers’ comp lawyer.