An Oregon meat-processing plant that was cited for “serious” safety violations less than a year ago is once again under investigation following the death of a cleaning contractor who fell into a running meat blender at the facility.
Hugo Avalos-Chanon, a 41-year-old Portland man, was reportedly cleaning the blender at the Interstate Meat Distributors plant at around 11:45 p.m. Friday when the tragedy occurred. Although a fast-acting worker turned on an emergency switch to stop the blender from operating, local news outlet KGW reported the employee’s actions weren’t in time.
A medical examiner ruled that Avalos-Chanon died of “blunt-force injuries and chopping wounds.”
Darrin Hoy, the president of the plant, called the 41-year-old’s death “extremely unfortunate” and said the company was fully cooperating with investigators, according to The Oregonian.
“We're not looking forward to reliving through any of it again,” Hoy said.
Although the plant received serious violations in October for lax safety measures regarding equipment, a spokeswoman for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said it was “way too early” to make any correlation between Avalos-Chanon’s death and the safety measures – or lack thereof.
One of the October violations reportedly stemmed from a machine in the meat-grinding room that wasn’t properly locked down during cleaning. Investigators ruled that an “unexpected start-up of the machine” could cause injuries.
The company was also the target of a consumer alert in 2007, when potentially deadly E.coli bacteria was traced to Interstate Meat's ground beef.
The plant will remain open during the ongoing investigation.