The operator of a food processing plant in Cincinnati faces $1.9 million in proposed OSHA penalties after a 29-year-old temporary worker suffered injuries that resulted in a leg amputation.
Working on an overnight sanitation shift, the worker fell into an industrial blender he was cleaning, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported. He then became caught in rotating paddle augers.
OSHA investigators found the company, Zwanenberg Good Group USA Inc., did not train sanitation workers to lock out equipment prior to cleaning, exposing them to moving machine parts, according to the agency. OSHA had cited the plant for similar violations less than two weeks before the injury.
“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 lock out equipment to ensure their own safety,” said Bill Donovan, OSHA regional administrator in Chicago.
The agency also found Zwanenberg failed to verify changes to the lockout/tagout procedures, retrain workers when changes occurred, periodically test the procedures and correct deviations. Other problems noted were trip hazards, electrical safe work procedures, lack of eye protection and personal protective equipment assessments.
OSHA proposed $1.9 million in penalties after citing 11 willful, four serious, one repeat and one other-than-serious violations. The company has contested the violations.
The agency had previously placed Zwanenberg in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program in 2017. That year and again in September 2022, OSHA cited Zwanenberg for violations of machine safety procedures and other hazards.
Based in Cincinnati, Zwanenberg is a subsidiary of Netherlands-based Zwanenberg Food Group, founded in 1875. The privately held food company has 12 production facilities in the Netherlands, the UK and the US. 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.