OSHA: Absence of safety guards led to amputation injuries at Piedmont facility

Published: Jun. 21, 2016 at 4:06 PM CDT
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PIEDMONT, MO (KFVS) - The Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that twice in less than a month, two workers at Piedmont, Missouri facility received amputation injuries because their employer failed to install adequate safety guards to keep operator's hands out of machine danger zones.

According to OSHA, they cited the food manufacturer, Ajinomoto Windson, Inc., for similar machine hazards at the Piedmont facility in 2013.

The OSHA inspection found that on December 22, 2015, a 54-year-old sanitation worker lost more than half of his right index finger and severed another finger while clearing debris from a breading machine. A third finger was damaged and later medically amputated.

On January 23, 2016, OSHA reports that a reciprocating blade severed the tip of a 30-year-old production worker's left middle finger as he tried to unjam a bagging machine without adequate safe guards.

Inspectors responded after the Dec. 22 and Jan. 23 incidents.

On June 15, the agency cited the company for two repeated, eight serious and three other-than-serious safety violations and proposed $140,000 in penalties.

"It's hard to imagine the agony and pain these workers suffered when their fingers were amputated. Machine safe guards would have prevented their hands coming in contact with the operating parts of the machine," said Bill McDonald, OSHA's area director in St. Louis. "Such hazards are inexcusable in light of the OSHA intervention that ensued at the plant following a machine guarding inspection in 2013. Ajinomoto Windsor needs to make fundamental changes inside of its workplace to protect workers on the job and to comply with federal safety standards."

Based in Ontario, California, Ajinomoto Windsor markets specialty frozen foods for consumers, commercial restaurants and food service operators from 10 plants in eight states.

Among their consumer brands are Tai Pei, Jose Ole, Ling Ling and Bernardi.

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 Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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