Enforcement and Inspection, Injuries and Illness

Amputation Hazards, Injuries Lead to Hefty OSHA Citations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently announced citations and fines for three employers for failing to prevent amputation hazards. The agency proposed six-figure penalties in each case.

Amputation

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OSHA found that ice cream manufacturer Fieldbrook Foods Corp. of Lakewood, New Jersey, willfully failed to shut down and isolate energy to a machine during repair work. The agency has proposed $237,176 in penalties.

The machine was involved in a 2018 incident in which a sanitation worker lost one finger and fractured another when his fingers got caught while repairing jammed equipment. A September 2020 investigation found that the company continues to ignore protocols designed to prevent other workers from suffering similar injuries.

Fieldbrook Foods, a subsidiary of Wells Enterprises Inc., produces and sells frozen desserts under the Blue Bunny, Blue Ribbon, Original Bomb Pop, and other brands. Wells Enterprises of LeMars, Iowa, produces more than 150 million gallons of ice cream per year and distributes products in all 50 states.

OSHA cited Fieldbrook Foods for serious, willful, and repeat lockout/tagout violations, as well as violations of federal electrical safety standards.

The agency cited ITS Technologies and Logistics LLC, operating as ITS Conglobal, for one willful violation and two serious violations after an employee at a Chicago shipping facility suffered a leg amputation and crushed pelvis after he fell off and was then run over by a powered heavy-lift vehicle used to move and stack steel containers. OSHA proposed penalties totaling $156,038. The agency found that ITS allowed employees to ride unsecured on a reach stacker, in violation of company safety procedures and OSHA powered industrial truck standards. OSHA also concluded that ITS Conglobal failed to provide employees with refresher training or evaluate them every 3 years on their ability to safely operate powered industrial vehicles.

“Each year, hundreds of employees suffer injuries from powered industrial vehicle hazards and it remains one of OSHA’s top 10 cited safety standards,” OSHA Chicago South Area Director James Martineck said in an agency statement.

From 2011 to 2017, 614 workers lost their lives in forklift-related incidents, and more than 7,000 nonfatal injuries with days away from work occurred every year, according to OSHA.

OSHA also cited BEF Foods Inc.’s Lima, Ohio, facility after a production worker suffered a partial arm amputation while cleaning an auger. While cleaning an auger used to rice potatoes, a 39-year-old production worker got her left arm caught in a running auger, suffering multiple lacerations and a partial amputation of her arm, according to the agency. Coworkers had to cut the auger apart to free her arm, OSHA reported.

OSHA has proposed penalties of $136,532 for two repeat lockout/tagout violations. The agency cited BEF Foods for similar violations in 2016 at the same facility.

“OSHA has specific regulations for implementing required training and safety procedures to protect workers from dangerous machinery,” OSHA Toledo, Ohio, Area Director Kimberly Nelson said in an agency statement.

BEF Foods is a leading producer and distributor of refrigerated potato, pasta, and vegetable-based side dishes; pork sausage; and a variety of refrigerated and frozen convenience food items under the Bob Evans, Owens, and Pineland Farms brand names, according to OSHA. BEF Foods employs more than 1,000 workers nationwide and 350 at the Lima facility.