Illinois Candy Manufacturer Cited Fine Over $480K Following Employees’ Injuries

Toni Sutton-Deangelico

Bellwood, IL ( long time American candy manufacturer Ferrara Candy Company, best known as the makers of Lemonheads candies and Keebler cookies, has been cited by OSHA following two work-related injuries. One employee had to have a fingertip amputated in January, while another got caught in a machine in March.

Ferrara Candy has been fined $485,008 in penalties and has been placed on OSHA’s severe violator list. The company was cited for numerous violations. Among the ‘serious’ violations were:

  • Failing to ensure ensure that hazards created by the rotating blades within the Westinghouse Rotary Valve, Model AL-150-2, on the Sugar Silo, were properly marked.
  • Failing to protect employees from machine related hazards through machine guarding.
  • Failing to properly train employees working on energized electrical equipment.
  • Failing to train employees performing work on energized circuits in a language they understood, on the safe work practices involved.
  • Failing to ensure employees performing live electrical work donned gloves that were maintained in a safe and reliable condition.
  • Failing to ensure fuse handling equipment, insulated for the circuit voltage, was used to remove or install fuses when fuse terminals were energized

Repeat violations, which carry penalties of up to ten times the amount of serious violations included:

  • Locks, tags, chains, wedges, key blocks, adapter pins, self-locking fasteners, or other hardware were not provided by the employer for isolating, securing or blocking of machines or equipment from energy sources.
  • Fererra did not conduct a periodic inspection of the energy control procedure at least annually to ensure that the procedure and the requirement of this standard were being followed.
  • Authorized employee(s) did not receive training in the recognition of applicable hazardous energy sources, the type and magnitude of the energy available in the workplace, and the methods and means necessary for energy isolation and control. OSHA determined that the employer did not ensure that authorized employees received the necessary training in the control of hazardous energy.
  • The employer does not ensure that the application of energy control is performed in sequence to include elements and actions such as preparation for shutdown, machine or equipment shutdown, machine or equipment isolation, device application, release of any stored energies, and verification of isolation.
  • Employees were exposed to hazards associated with rotating and moving parts while performing sanitation of equipment, such as the Sugar Auger and Cross Screw Auger, without stopping and isolating the equipment from the energy source..
  • An employee was exposed to machine hazards associated with crushing hazards from the unexpected movement of the energized equipment when performing cleaning of the line during changeovers and before shut downs on equipment. The equipment was not stopped and locked out before work was performed.

In a press release Chicago North OSHA Area Director Angeline Loftus stated Proper safety procedures, including machine guarding and the effective lockout of all sources of energy, could have prevented these employees’ injuries. Employers have a legal responsibility to train workers and protect them from exposure to hazards in the workplace.”

Ferrara Candy has 15 days to comply with the citations given to them by OSHA, request an informal conference with Loftus, or challenge the citations before an independent review commission.

In a media release the company said it is planning on meeting with OSHA on July 23 to discuss all allegations. “At Ferrara, we take occupational health and safety seriously and recognize that maintaining a safe work environment requires constant improvement,” said Sara Kittel, Ferrara Candy head of corporate affairs. “As part of our commitment to an injury-free workplace, we are working with former OSHA officials to strengthen our current health and safety practices by enhancing our safety audits, trainings and education to keep our employees, contractors and visitors safe every day. At the same time, we view OSHA as a partner in our mission and remain committed to working with the agency to ensure that all of our procedures meet the highest safety standards.”

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