Oct. 30, 2014
Employee fatally injured after being caught in machinery at Alpha Baking Co.
U.S. Department of Labor's OSHA cites Chicago bakery for 6 serious violations
CHICAGO – A 31-year-old engineer was fatally injured on May 27, 2014, when his head was struck by an unguarded rotating gear arm on a piece of bakery equipment at Alpha Baking Co. Inc. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the Chicago baking plant for six serious safety violations following the tragic incident.
"It is unacceptable that Alpha Baking Co. would expose workers to unguarded machinery. This tragic loss of life could have been prevented by ensuring workers were not exposed to dangerous equipment without safety mechanisms," said Angeline Loftus, OSHA's area director at its Chicago North Office in Des Plaines. "Injuries involving machinery and equipment often result in death or permanent disability. OSHA continues to focus on identifying and eliminating these types of hazards."
OSHA's inspection found that the employee, who had been with the company six years, was attempting to check the oil level of the encoder gear box on a bakery loader after the equipment was serviced. The machine guards had not been reinstalled following maintenance. He placed his head into the gearbox area to get a better view of the oil level when the gear arm unexpectedly rotated and struck him in the head, catching him between the machine's gear arm and frame.
Other amputation and caught-in hazards were found at the facility and included the company's failure to implement specific lockout/tagout procedures to prevent machinery from operating during service and maintenance. These violations are among the most frequently cited by OSHA.
A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
OSHA has proposed fines of $42,000 for the violations.
Alpha Baking Co. employs 1,400 workers and produces hot dog and hamburger buns and other bread goods at two plants in Chicago and one in La Porte, Indiana. The company currently sells its products under the S. Rosen's, Mary Ann, Kreamo, Golden Hearth and Natural Ovens brand names.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Chicago North Area Office at 847-803-4800.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
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Release Number: 14-2008-CHI
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