March 14, 2022 | Susan Napier-Sewell

Employee Fatality Leads to OSHA-Proposed $145k Penalties, Severe Violator Enforcement Program

employee fatality

An employee fatality occurs more than 100 times a week, or about 15 deaths every day. A worker died every 111 minutes from a work-related injury in 2020 (Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries).

No employer ever wants to end up in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program ((SVEP); a recent employee fatality — that subsequently carries the SVEP penalty — is due to a failure to implement lockout/tagout.

In the recent employee fatality, a 42-year-old employee of a Crest Hill, Illinois, frozen-pizza manufacturer suffered a fatal injury while cleaning a machine on July 20, 2021. An OSHA inspection determined that Rich Products Corp. failed to implement energy control procedures – commonly known as lockout/tagout.

The company, Rich Products Corp., exposed its third-shift sanitation workers to serious hazards

According to a press release, OSHA issued one willful violation to the Buffalo, New York-based food manufacturer and proposed $145,027 in penalties. The agency placed Rich Products in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP) for a willful violation that led to an employee fatality.

Rich Products Corp. 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 in Tinley Park. “Employers who fail to follow safety standards and train workers in operating procedures will be held accountable.”

Rich Products Corp. manufactures frozen pizza, desserts and other grocery items for food service, retail, in-store bakeries, and delis. The company operates about 100 locations globally and reports annual sales exceeding $4 billion. The company employs about 375 people at its Crest Hills facility and more than 7,400 nationwide.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent OSHRC.

Source: OH&S, “U.S. Department of Labor proposes $145K in Fines after Worker Suffers Fatal Injury at Chicago-area Pizza Manufacturer,” Shereen Hashem, Jan. 26, 2022.

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Categories
Accidents, Investigations, Safety
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