Purina plant fined for safety violations after worker loses leg

Purina plant fined for safety violations after worker loses leg

SPOKANE, Wash. - The industrial accident that cost a Spokane man his leg has triggered thousands of dollars in fines for alleged safety violations at the Purina mill.

The Department of Labor and Industries has cited the plant, located on East Trent, for more than a dozen safety issues, including the October 2013 incident that left 29-year-old David Olinger trapped in a horizontal auger.

Olinger was working on a catwalk when his leg got caught in a horizontal screw used to push feed through the plant. Surgeons drove to the scene and freed Olinger from the machinery by amputating his leg.                                                                          

Occupational safety inspectors came here the same day Olinger was rescued from the auger hoping to find what led to his injuries, however as they began looking around the mill they found 15 other alleged safety violations.

Labor and Industries has now fined Purina $1,500 for not guarding against the equipment from starting up while Olinger was working on it.

As inspectors toured the plant they found three other places where workers were exposed to moving machinery and a half dozen fall or trip hazards where employees could fall up to 25 feet.

The Spokane Fire Department was also concerned about the citation that found unsafe buildups of combustible dust in the production area of the plant.

Purina was cited for 16 violations and ordered to pay $11,520 in fines.

A Purina spokesperson responded to a request for comment on this story with the following statement:

"Safety is a core value and top priority for our company. We cooperated fully with OSHA during its investigation and are currently reviewing the citation. Our thoughts are with the individual who was injured."

Purina is appealing the fines and has said through its attorney that they have told Labor and Industries that none of the 16 safety violations found are valid.

NOTE: Purina's statement mistakenly refers to the Department of Labor and Industries as OSHA, a completely separate government agency not involved with the investigation.