Food Company Fined $1.7M After Worker Amputations

The company must also invest $1.9M in safety improvements.

Kristen Kazarian, Managing Editor

May 17, 2024

2 Min Read
OSHA Fines Food Processing Company $1.7M for Worker Amputations
There were two workers with amputations due to lack of safety measures.Thank you for your assistant / iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

A global supplier of processed foods, Zwanenberg Food Group USA, has been fined and agreed to pay $1.7 million in federal penalties and invest $1.9 million in safety improvements at its Cincinnati plant to resolve hazards found during several investigations by Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 

The agreement resolves OSHA citations issued to Zwanenberg in September 2022, April 2023 and December 2023, after investigations into the cause of injuries suffered by two temporary workers at the plant. Agency inspectors determined the company exposed workers to hazards by allowing machinery to operate without required safety guards during production and not de-energizing equipment during sanitation operations.

“By agreeing to make extensive safety improvements and work with OSHA and industry experts to address workplace hazards, Zwanenberg Food Group will be better equipped to ensure the safety and protect the lives of current employees and future workers at its Cincinnati production facility,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Bill Donovan. “Through increased safety measures and regular reporting, we will hold Zwanenberg leadership accountable for changing their corporate culture as they work with industry experts to develop and continually test safety measures and train employees to recognize hazards.”

As part of the settlement, Zwanenberg will make the following safety improvements:

  • An analysis by an independent third-party auditor of all equipment. 

  • Develop and re-write lockout/tagout procedures for all equipment.

  • Enhance machine guarding.

  • Train employees on the new machine safety procedures, including lockout/tagout.

  • Ensure each employee uses and applies their own HASP lock during third-shift sanitation.

  • Transition most of its workforce to permanent employees within six months.

  • Meet with OSHA at least quarterly to discuss safety and health issues.

  • Retain a third-party consultant to audit all personal protective equipment, hazardous communication and lockout/tagout programs. 

  • Continue the company’s recently adopted “Pre-Startup Safety Review”

  • Conduct an independent audit of its safety training programs. 

  • Implement a “Stop Work for Safety” program including awards and recognition.

  • Continue its “Near-Miss Reporting Program” and daily discussions of issues at production meetings.

  • Implement a learning management system for all employees and schedule mandatory monthly computer-based safety training.

  • Conduct on-board safety training for all new employees. 

  • Develop a corporate wide safety and health management system that includes input from management and workers and the creation of a safety committee.

“Zwanenberg Food Group has taken important steps to improve plant safety but the work of training new and existing employees on machine safety procedures to prevent injuries never ends,” said OSHA Area Director Ken Montgomery. “Employers are responsible for recognizing and responding to hazards immediately and protecting workers to ensure they end their shifts safely.”

Based in Cincinnati, OH, Zwanenberg Food Group USA is a subsidiary of Holland’s Zwanenberg Food Group. The privately held company has 12 production facilities in the US, Netherlands, and UK.

Zwanenberg’s product line includes cooked ham, chili, luncheon meat, soups, stew, corned beef hash, and pastas marketed under the Vietti, Southgate, Halal, and other private label brands. The company employs about 175 workers at the Cincinnati facility.

About the Author(s)

Kristen Kazarian

Managing Editor

Kristen Kazarian has been a writer and editor for more than three decades. She has worked at several consumer magazines and B2B publications in the fields of food and beverage, packaging, processing, women's interest, local news, health and nutrition, fashion and beauty, automotive, and computers.

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