Company cited in worker’s death at Missouri dairy farm

(Herald-Whig) – LABELLE, Mo. — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Sharpe Holdings Inc. after three workers died in the last five years at its Northeast Missouri operations and is seeking fines that total $189,000.

According to OSHA, a 51-year-old equipment operator died the day after he was ejected from the back of a van Sept. 26. Investigators found that there were no safety belts, secure passenger seats or latch on the rear doors in the van.

“Sharpe Holdings is a repeat violator that knowingly refuses to follow basic safety procedures,” said Mike Minicky, OSHA’s acting area director in St. Louis. “Three people have died while working at this facility in the last five years. This latest tragedy could have been prevented by using common-sense safety devices.”

OSHA’s online report indicates that on Sept. 1, 2014, a 35-year-old worker doing maintenance work on an overhead door’s pulley system died after falling from a 12-foot ladder onto a concrete floor at Sharpe Holdings’ dairy farm in rural LaBelle. The company contested the eight violations of worker safety rules.

An auto mechanic died of complications in October 2012 after a tire rim struck him at the company’s auto repair shop.

Another citation was issued in the case of a worker who was hospitalized in January 2015 after being hit by a skid steer loader.

Sharpe Holdings employs about 300 workers at an array of businesses in Lewis, Knox and Shelby counties. The company, started by Charles Sharpe, has a dairy and creamery, farm, concrete plant, auto repair shop, welding shop, restaurants and lodging, a telecommunications company, graphic design firm, and convenience store.

The company has contested the OSHA findings and may appear before a review commission.