MIAMI – Early reports indicate a man fell three stories to his death at the Simmons Feed Mill in Fairland sometime early Tuesday morning.
A plant manager confirmed Wednesday morning a fatality had occurred and referred media to cooperate headquarters for an official statement.
“The incident occurred early Tuesday morning. Unfortunately we don't have enough information to confirm details at this time," Simmons Corporate Affairs Coordinator Kimmie Provost said in a written statement. “We are unable to share the name of the individual at this time without the family's consent. A full assessment to understand what occurred is ongoing. Unfortunately we cannot draw any conclusions at this time.”
Provost said the company is mourning the loss of the employee.
Simmons Foods is a leading supplier of poultry, pet and ingredient products based in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.
Simmons ranks in the top 20 poultry producers in the United States, is the largest supplier of store brand wet pet food in North America, and boasts an innovative line of proprietary feed ingredient products. With 5,800 employees, Simmons serves customers in all 50 states and more than 40 countries around the world.
“We are devastated by the death of a team member at our Fairland facility. Our immediate priority is to wholeheartedly support and comfort the family during this tragic time,” she said.
The United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Administration's (OSHA) is examining the fatality incident, according to their spokesperson Deputy Regional Director of Public Affairs Juan J. Rodriguez.
“We can confirm that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened an investigation into this fatality incident at the Simmons Feed Mill in Fairland, Oklahoma," Rodriguez said. “We cannot say more while the investigation is open and ongoing.”
Rodriguez did confirm OSHA was notified by Simmons who called to report the incident.
Falls from height can occur from many walking/working surfaces throughout a grain handling facility according to OSHA. Examples of such surfaces include (but are not limited to) floors, machinery, structures, roofs, skylights, unguarded holes, wall and floor openings, ladders, unguarded catwalks, platforms and manlifts. Falls can also occur as workers move from the vertical exterior ladders on grain bins to the bin roof or through a bin entrance.
"I have no information on that, our department was not notified of the incident and I wasn't made aware of it until late last night," Fairland Police Chief Aaron Richardson said.
Richardson said his understanding is the worker was injured at the plant and was transported to a hospital and died there from his injuries. He said his department was not notified or dispatched to the scene and is not involved in any investigation.
Chief Operating Officer of Simmons Prepared Foods, Gary Murphy, said in a written statement that the company is invested in safe operations practices.
“Simmons is committed to providing a safe place to work. We are doing everything possible to quickly determine a complete and accurate understanding of what happened. Operations at the Fairland facility were suspended while a thorough assessment of this incident was completed,” Murphy said.
The feed mill is located in the Fairland Industrial Park at 1010 Industrial Park Road. The $6 million dollar facility was built in 1990 and created at least 150 jobs as part of the mill's operations.
The automated feed mill was built with a capacity of milling more then one million tons of feed annually. The Fairland facility covers 50 acres and includes offices and a truck maintenance facility.
The Fairland site was selected because the area lends itself well to growers, particularly independent growers and has excellent distribution and road systems, including railroad access according to Mark Simmons, company chairman at the time the mill was constructed.
According to the United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Administration's (OSHA) statistics. 4,821 workers died on the job in 2014.
Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at email@example.com. or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1