A 29-year-old temporary worker, on the job only nine months, suffered critical injuries after falling into an industrial blender he was cleaning and became caught in the rotating paddle augers on an overnight shift at a Greenwood Twp., OH, food processing plant. The worker's injuries led to a leg amputation.
US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined Zwanenberg Food Group USA Inc. didn't train sanitation workers to lockout the equipment prior to cleaning, exposing them to moving machine parts. OSHA cited the plant for similar violations less than two weeks before the injury.
OSHA proposed $1.9 million in penalties after citing 11 willful, four serious, one repeat, and one other-than-serious violations, most involving required machine safety procedures that isolate energy to prevent movement during cleaning and maintenance. Zwanenberg was listed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program in 2017.
"This young man suffered a preventable debilitating injury because his employer failed to train him and the majority of its third-shift sanitation workers adequately to lockout equipment to ensure their own safety," said OSHA Regional Administrator Bill Donovan. "This tragedy is compounded by the fact that OSHA cited Zwanenberg for similar violations two weeks prior, and they continued to ignore their responsibility to protect workers in their plant."
OSHA also found that Zwanenberg failed to verify changes to the lockout/tagout procedures, retrain workers when changes occurred, periodically test the procedures, and correct deviations. Trip hazards, electrical safe work procedures, lack of eye protection, and personal protective equipment assessments were also noted.
OSHA cited Zwanenberg Food Group USA in 2017 and September 2022 for violations of machine safety procedures and other hazards. The company has contested the most recent violations.
Based in Cincinnati, Zwanenberg Food Group USA is a subsidiary of Holland-based Zwanenberg Food Group, founded in 1875. The privately held company has 12 production facilities in the Netherlands, the UK and the US.
Zwanenberg's product line includes meat products, soups, and pastas marketed under Vietti, Southgate, Halal, and other private label brands. The company employs about 175 workers at the Cincinnati location.
The food company has 15 business days from receipt of the 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.