Safety and OSHA News

Conveyor belt breaks bones in worker’s hand and arm: $140K OSHA fine

A Rochester, NY, commercial bakery was investigated after an employee broke bones in her hand and arm while cleaning a conveyor belt. It’s the third time in the past five years the bakery has been fined for lockout/tagout (LOTO) violations. 

On Dec. 16, 2015, a worker for a Wegmans Food Market bakery was injured while cleaning an operating conveyor belt and roller. Her hand was caught between the belt and the roller, and the machine pulled her arm in.

OSHA’s Buffalo Area Office investigated and discovered that Wegmans employees routinely cleaned the conveyor belt and roller without turning it off and locking out its power source. The bakery also failed to train workers in LOTO procedures.

The Rochester, NY, bakery was fined for similar LOTO hazards in October 2011 and September 2015. OSHA cited Wegmans with two repeat violations and hit the company with a $140,000 fine.

Michael Scime, OSHA’s area director in Buffalo, said in a press release:

“These hazards and the injury were preventable. They also reflect an unfortunate and needless pattern. OSHA has repeatedly cited the bakery for similar lockout and training hazards over the past five years, including incidents in 2015 in which one employee sustained a finger injury and another suffered a first-degree burn. Wegmans must take effective and ongoing action to ensure that its bakery employees are properly trained and safeguarded so that incidents and injuries such as these do not happen again.”

The 2015 citations against Wegmans carried a $188,200 penalty. As Scime referred to, LOTO failures by the company led to:

  • a sanitation crew member losing his fingertip when it caught in the pinch point of an operating conveyor he was cleaning, and
  • a mechanic suffering a first-degree burn on his wrist when steam released while he attempted to repair a valve.

Wegmans is an 89-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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