Region 4 News Release: USDL: 00-141
Wednesday, Aug. 09, 2000
Contact: Ray Finney
PHONE: (770) 493-6644
OSHA FINES EUROPEAN BAKERS $119,700 FOLLOWING FATALITY AT TUCKER, GA., FACILITY
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration today cited European Bakers, Ltd. and proposed fines totaling $119,700 following a fatal accident at the company's Tucker, Ga., facility.
According to Ray Finney, OSHA's Atlanta-East area director, the accident occurred on Feb. 10, 2000 when an employee climbed an 8-foot portable ladder to inspect a machine while it was running. As a result, the employee's arm was caught in the machine's conveyor system and he was dragged into a pinch point created by the conveyor moving past a fixed structural support. The worker died of asphyxiation caused by chest compression.
Following inspection of the Tucker plant, OSHA cited the company for 18 serious violations with proposed penalties totaling $70,200. Included among them was a citation for failing to guard the conveyor to protect workers from moving parts. Improper use of ladders, poor housekeeping, and electrical hazards were also cited as serious violations.
One willful violation drew a $49,500 penalty for machine guarding deficiencies. In an area of the plant separate from the accident site, plexiglass panel guards on a machine called a proofer were pushed out of the way to allow workers to remove by hand excess dough that falls into the machine. This practice exposed employees to amputation hazards at the unguarded chains and sprockets.
"This company was aware that its employees were not protected from moving machine parts," said Finney. "The plexiglass panel guards that were removed from an overhead proofer placed the workers at risk of serious injury.
"Our experience indicates that an effective safety and health program that has management commitment, supervisory accountability, and employee participation will significantly reduce the type of fatal accident that occurred in this instance."
Finney added, "when a hazard is known, the employer has an obligation to correct it. Being proactive prior to an OSHA inspection can alleviate expensive penalties and, more importantly, can prevent accidents and save lives."
Finney urged employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Tucker, Georgia at 770-493-6644. OSHA's toll-free, nationwide hotline - 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742) - may be used to report workplace accidents or fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially if they occur outside of normal business hours. Some employers may also take advantage of Georgia Tech's free consultation service at 404-894-3806.
A willful violation is one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSH Act and regulations.
OSHA defines a serious violation as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
European Bakers, a subsidiary of Mrs. Smith's Bakery which is a division of Flowers Industries, employs approximately 250 workers who produce bread and other bakery products at the Tucker location. The company has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Inspection of the worksite was conducted by OSHA's Atlanta-East area office located at LaVista Perimeter Office Park, Building 7, Suite 110, Tucker, Ga. 30084; phone: (770) 493-6644/6742.
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