OSHA: Safety Failures Led To Fingertip Amputations At WI Cereal Factory

OSHA has proposed $118K in fines to a Nature's Path Foods subsidiary for safety violations that it said led to a worker having three fingertips severed by a rotating airlock blade.

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SUSSEX, WI — A rotating airlock blade severed a 30-year-old worker's three fingertips as he cleaned the machine at a Sussex subsidiary of organic food manufacturer Nature's Path Foods Inc., an incident federal safety investigators found could have been prevented if the machine had been powered down fully.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the subsidiary, Nature's Path USA II LLC, for the same violation in 2012.

On May 17, OSHA cited the cereal manufacturer facility for two repeated, 14 serious and one other-than-serious safety violations after its investigation into the Nov. 24, 2015, injury. The agency has proposed $118,320 in penalties.

"Training workers to isolate energy, as required by OSHA standards, would have prevented this young man's hands from coming in contact with the operating parts of the machine," said Christine Zortman, OSHA's area director in Milwaukee. "Employers are required to ensure equipment is properly guarded or locked out to prevent workers from getting into danger zones of equipment."

The agency also found Nature's Path USA II failed to:

  • Develop confined space entry procedures to issue permits, test atmospheric conditions, monitor and train workers.
  • Power down or lockout equipment to prevent unintentional operation.
  • Conduct periodic inspections of energy-control procedures.
  • Develop procedures to summon rescue and emergency services and train workers on bloodborne pathogen exposure procedures.
  • Install adequate machine guarding.
  • Correct electrical safety violations.
  • Train workers about chemical hazards used in the workplace.
  • Provide information on noise limits and provide proper fitting of, and ensure use of hearing protection.

Since Jan. 1, 2015, OSHA requires all employers to report any severe work-related injury — defined as a hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye — within 24 hours. The requirement that an employer report a workplace fatality within eight hours remains in force. In the first full year of the program, Wisconsin employers reported 157 amputations. Amputation hazards remain among the most frequently cited OSHA violations.

Headquartered in Richmond, British Columbia, Nature's Path Foods Inc. is a privately held, family-owned company, producing USDA Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified breakfast and snack foods sold in grocery and natural food stores in more than 50 countries. Its brands include Nature's Path, Love Crunch, Qi'a, Que Pasa, Flax Plus, and EnviroKidz. Founded in 1985, the company has hundreds of employees at its four facilities in Canada and the U.S.

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