A frozen pizza manufacturer faces $2.8 million in penalties following the death of a 29-year-old temporary worker at a facility in Illinois, the US Department of Labor reported. The worker was supplied by Xcel Staffing Solutions LLC in Waukegan, Illinois, but under the supervision of the manufacturer, according to the department.
The woman suffered fatal injuries while on the overnight shift in December 2022 at Miracapo Pizza Co.’s Gurnee, Illinois, sheeting facility. OSHA inspectors found that the temporary worker was using compressed air to clean a spiral conveyer as it moved to cool pizza when her head became caught in the machinery. According to the department, the worker had not been trained or given authority to stop equipment from moving before cleaning.
“This tragedy took the life of a young woman and forever changes the lives of her family, friends and co-workers,” Doug Parker, assistant secretary for occupational safety and health, said in a press release. “Safety standards are put in place to prevent these kinds of tragedies.”
“Miracapo was deeply saddened by the death of Leily Lopez-Hernandez, who worked for an external staffing agency at our Gurnee facility last year,” Miracapo said in a statement to SIA. “We have always prioritized the safety and security of everyone who enters our facilities, whether employees, contractors or visitors, and will continue to do so.”
The company continued, “While we disagree with OSHA’s findings released today, we remain committed to working with the agency to arrive at the best possible outcome for all. We are proud of our safety record. Safety has always been and will continue to be a core value for our company.”
In addition to the $2.8 million in penalties, OSHA placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The company was also cited with 16 willful egregious violations, the agency’s most severe; one willful violation; and 12 serious violations.
Miracapo has 15 business days from receiving the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with an OSHA area director or contest the findings.
Another company, GDI Services, was also assessed by OSHA with $334,839 in proposed penalties. The contractor supplies third-shift sanitation crews sourced by Wilbro Management Service Inc. of Detroit to supply temporary workers, many of whom only speak Spanish, according to the department.
The Department of Labor noted the death of the temporary worker occurred just weeks after a November 2022 incident at the same facility in which a worker performing maintenance on a sauce depositor suffered an amputation. OSHA assessed the company $290,191 in proposed penalties in that incident. The department also reported another employee suffered the amputation of a fingertip in October 2021 while trying to clear a jammed pizza conveyor.