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Pizza Manufacturer Faces Fines for Cleaner’s Death

DOL finds Miracapo Pizza Company failed to protect worker from machine hazards.

June 21, 2023

According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Miracapo Pizza Company could have prevented the death of a 29-year-old cleaning worker by following proper machine safety procedures.

Inspectors with the DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) learned the cleaner had suffered fatal injuries while working on the overnight shift at the pizza manufacturer’s Gurnee, Illinois, production facility in December 2022.

OSHA determined the woman—a temporary worker provided by XCEL Staffing Solutions LLC in Waukegan, Illinois—was using compressed air to clean a spiral conveyer as it moved to cool pizza when her head became caught in the machinery. The agency found that she, along with other temporary workers, had not been trained or given the authority to stop equipment from moving before cleaning.

Just weeks earlier, in November 2022, a worker performing maintenance on a sauce depositor in the same facility suffered an amputation. In October 2021, another employee suffered the amputation of a fingertip while trying to clear a jammed pizza conveyor.

The December incident led OSHA to cite Miracapo Pizza Company for 16 willful egregious violations (the agency’s most severe citation), one willful violation, and 12 serious violations. As a result, OSHA has issued Miracapo US$2,812,658 in penalties and has placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

OSHA also issued a citation to GDI Services Inc., a contractor that provides facility services to Miracapo Pizza Company, for failing to lock out equipment while cleaning was being performed on food processing machines, not providing hardware necessary to lockout or tagout equipment, failing to give effective information and training regarding hazardous chemicals, and neglecting to train workers on safety procedures in a language they understand. The agency has assessed GDI Services with $334,839 in proposed penalties.

“This tragedy took the life of a young woman and forever changes the lives of her family, friends, and co-workers. Safety standards are put in place to prevent these kinds of tragedies,” said Doug Parker, OSHA assistant secretary. “Employers have a responsibility to train workers in the language they understand so they know how to perform their work safely.”

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