The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has announced $47,000 in federal fines against an Ohio food producer, Hearthside Food Solutions. According to The Courier, several Hearthside employees have experienced workplace injuries within just the past year.
In July, one 41-year-old employee was cleaning product waste from the floor when her hairnet was caught in one of the factory’s machines. She suffered severe scalp injuries and lacerations, requiring four days of hospitalization. Hearthside was also cited previously for two separate fingertip amputations at the McComb factory in both April and September of this year.
“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, area director in Toledo for the safety and health agency. “It is disheartening to cite an employer repeatedly for the same hazards.”
Since January of this year, OSHA requires all employers to report workplace amputations and hospitalizations resulting from workplace injury within 24 hours of the incident’s occurrence. While Hearthside settled OSHA’s charges for the April amputation, the company has contested September’s findings. The company claims to be “disappointed with the tone and substance” of OSHA’s recent statement regarding Hearthside’s safety.
“Government statistics confirm Hearthside is one of the industry’s safest food producers,” Hearthside said. “Hearthside Foods is deeply committed to the safety of all our employees. By (OSHA’s) own statistics, we are among the nation’s safest manufacturing environments. All 20 of our facilities continually invest in training, processes and equipment to further improve employee safety.”
The McComb, Ohio, plant, one of 23 facilties in North America and Europe, employs nearly 1,800 of Hearthside’s employees and is known for being one of the nation’s largest cookie and cracker manufacturers.