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Rendering plant worker injured in steam blast

(Canadian OH&S News) A long-time employee of a beef processing company in southeastern Alberta remained in hospital in critical but stable condition, two days after he was injured in a workplace accident.


(Canadian OH&S News) A long-time employee of a beef processing company in southeastern Alberta remained in hospital in critical but stable condition, two days after he was injured in a workplace accident.

At about 11 a.m. on Aug. 18, workers at the JBS Food Canada Inc. facility in Brooks, Alta. were using steam and water to move rendered material down a 24-inch pipe, when there was a blockage in the pipe, said Brookes Merritt, public affairs officer with the provincial Ministry of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour. “A pipe cap was removed so that a worker could free the blockage when steam and water was released from the opening, causing severe burns to the worker,” he said.

The 43-year-old JBS employee was taken to a local hospital, but later transferred to the burn unit at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, Merritt said, adding that the ministry issued a stop-work order for the rendering plant. (These plants process animal by-products for meat production, separating edible and inedible material.)

Misty Barnes, a spokesperson for JBS USA, the company’s Greeley, Colorado-based parent company, said that company officers responded swiftly to the accident, calling emergency teams immediately. The worker, an employee of the company for more than 19 years, was transported to the emergency room after the “hot water-related” incident, where he remained in critical but stable condition as of Aug. 20.

“Out of respect for our team member and his family, the company will not provide further comment at this time,” Barnes said.

Information from the National Renderers Association in Alexandria, Virginia said that rendering involves cooking and drying using steam cookers. The process uses steam temperatures of between 115 and 145 degrees Celsius for 40 to 90 minutes, which inactivates bacteria, viruses, protozoa and parasitic organisms.

“Pipes carrying hot liquids, steam and vapours should be clearly identified,” added information from the Meat Industry Association of New Zealand. “Take particular care when opening inspection hatches and ensure vessels and pipes have been cooled and isolated before undertaking any work on these items,” the information said.

With over 2,000 employees, JBS Food Canada is one of the largest employers in southern Alberta and one of Canada’s largest beef processors, the company said on its website. The Brooks plant supplies fresh boxed beef items, including prime, AAA, AA, A and ungraded meat as well as variety products, beef trim and ground beef.