Sanitation Worker Killed While Cleaning Food Manufacturing Equipment

Company fined for not following lockout/tagout procedures

January 26, 2022

A food manufacturer’s failure to implement equipment energy control procedures has resulted in the death of a sanitation worker, according to an inspection by the U.S. Department of Health’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The 42-year-old worker was killed while cleaning a machine last July at Rich Products Corp, a frozen-pizza manufacturer in Crest Hill, Illinois. Electric power to the machine was not shut off in accordance with lockout/tagout procedures that specify companies must have a process for disabling machinery or equipment to prevent the release of hazardous energy while employees perform servicing and maintenance activities.

According to the investigation, Rich Products failed to implement lockout/tagout procedures, exposing its third-shift sanitation workers to serious hazards. OSHA issued one willful violation to the food manufacturer and proposed US$145,027 in penalties. The agency placed Rich Products in OSHA’s Severe Violator Program as the Buffalo New York-based company has an extensive history of OSHA violations nationwide.

“This preventable tragedy is another example of why employers must ensure lockout/tagout procedures are in place before allowing workers to clean or operate machinery,” said OSHA Chicago South Area Director James Martineck. “Employers who fail to follow safety standards and train workers in operating procedures will be held accountable.”


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