A 29-year-old worker suffered the amputation of a fingertip while reassembling a pump at a Hostess Brands LLC facility in Chicago, an injury the employer could have prevented by ensuring to shut down and lockout the equipment to prevent it from unexpectedly starting during maintenance, a U.S. Department of Labor investigation found.
Inspectors with the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated after the company reported the December 2022 injury and found the employer did not train workers on lockout/tagout procedures.
The agency also noted Hostess Brands failed to make sure shafts, sprockets and moving parts on equipment such as a dough mixer, coolers, icing and wrapping stations and box stoppers had required guarding in place to protect workers from contact with pinch points and moving parts.
OSHA inspectors cited the company for one willful violation, one repeat violation and five serious violations. The company faces $298,010 in proposed penalties.
After the December injury, OSHA expanded its inspection under the National Emphasis Program on Amputations for Manufacturing Industries. The program focuses on many hazards that can lead to serious injuries, illnesses and deaths.
“OSHA frequently finds that amputations and other injuries occur when manufacturers fail to make sure machine safety procedures are followed and employees are trained properly,” said Chicago North OSHA Area Director Sukhvir Kaur in Arlington Heights. “Employers can spare their employees these kinds of painful injuries by complying with OSHA and industry-recognized safety standards.”
Since 2018, OSHA has inspected Hostess Brands 12 times in Georgia, Illinois and Kansas and has cited them for failing to protect employees’ safety and health. In some of these investigations, the agency identified some of the same hazards identified in Chicago.
Hostess Brands LLC is a subsidiary of Hostess Brands Inc., based in Lenexa, Kansas, and is one of the nation’s leading snack food makers. The company produces well-known packaged snack products, including doughnuts, cupcakes, cookies and wafers. The publicly traded company reports annual sales of $1.4 billion and employs about 3,000 workers in Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, and in Ontario, Canada.
This article was first published in Insurance Journal.