Twice in less than a month, two workers at an Ajinomoto Windsor Inc. facility suffered amputation injuries because their employer failed to install adequate safety guards to keep operator's hands out of machine danger zones, inspectors with the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found. The agency cited the food manufacturer for similar machine hazards at the Piedmont facility in 2013.
Inspectors responded after the December 22, 2015, and January 23, 2016, injuries occurred at the plant. On June 15, the agency cited the company for two repeated, eight serious and three other-than-serious safety violations and proposed $140,000 in penalties.
OSHA inspection found:
• On Dec. 22, 2015, a 54-year-old sanitation worker lost more than half of his right index finger and severed another finger while clearing debris from a breading machine. A third finger was damaged and later medically amputated.
• On Jan. 23, 2016, a reciprocating blade severed the tip of a 30-year-old production worker's left middle finger as he attempted to unjam a bagging machine without adequate safe guards.
"It's hard to imagine the agony and pain these workers suffered when their fingers were amputated. Machine safe guards would have prevented their hands coming in contact with the operating parts of the machine," said Bill McDonald, OSHA's area director in St. Louis. "Such hazards are inexcusable in light of the OSHA intervention that ensued at the plant following a machine guarding inspection in 2013. Ajinomoto Windsor needs to make fundamental changes inside of its workplace to protect workers on the job and to comply with federal safety standards."
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, Missouri employers reported 88 amputations. Amputation hazards remain among the most frequently cited OSHA violations.
Based in Ontario, CA, Ajinomoto Windsor markets specialty frozen foods for consumers, commercial restaurants, and foodservice operators from 10 plants in eight states. Among their consumer brands are Tai Pei, Jose Ole, Ling Ling, and Bernardi.
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.
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