Machine Pulls Hair

Monday, December 7, 2015 @ 01:12 PM gHale

A 41-year-old worker cleaning product waste from a factory floor at a McComb, OH, cookie and cracker manufacturing plant this past July suffered severe scalp injuries and multiple lacerations when a machine caught her hairnet, resulting in her hospitalization for four days, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

This is the third serious injury involving machine hazards reported this year at Hearthside Food Solutions LLC, which bakes cookies and crackers for national brands. The company is now facing fines of $47,000.

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Based in Downers Grove, Illinois, Hearthside Food Solutions is the food industry’s largest contract manufacturer of baked goods and bars. With 23 facilities in North America and Europe, the company employs approximately 6,000 workers, nearly 1,800 of them at the McComb plant.

After an inspection, OSHA inspectors issued Hearthside one repeated, three serious and one other-than-serious safety violation for failing to protect workers from machinery operating parts.

“ It is hard to imagine how frightened this worker must have been as the machine pulled her in by her hair. Three times this year, an employee of Hearthside Food Solutions suffered life-altering injuries because the company continues to fail to protect its workers,” said Kim Nelson, OSHA’s area director in Toledo. “It is disheartening to cite an employer repeatedly for the same hazards.”

OSHA cited the company in April 2015 and September after workers had fingertips amputated in accidents at the plant. Hearthside reported the three injuries to OSHA under a rule that took effect in January 2015, which requires employers to report amputations and workplace hospitalizations to the agency within 24 hours.

The company settled the citations issued in April 2015 and has contested those issued in September.