Two workers suffered accidental amputations less than a month apart because the frozen foods company they work for failed to install adequate safety guards on dangerous machinery, federal safety and health inspectors said.
The amputations occurred at a Piedmont, Mo., manufacturing plant for Ajinomoto Windsor Inc. of Ontario, California, which produces specialty frozen foods for consumers, commercial restaurants, and food service operators under the Tai Pei, Jose Ole, Ling Ling, and Bernardi brands. The plant is one of 10 manufacturing facilities the company operates in eight states.
The first amputation occurred on Dec. 22, 2015, when 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 that was damaged also had to be medically amputated.
Then, on Jan. 23, 2016, a reciprocating blade severed the tip of a 30-year-old production worker’s left middle finger as he attempted to unjam a bagging machine that lacked proper safeguards.
“It’s hard to imagine the agony and pain these workers suffered when their fingers were amputated,” said Bill McDonald, OSHA’s area director in St. Louis. “Machine safeguards would have prevented their hands coming in contact with the operating parts of the machine.”
“Such hazards are inexcusable in light of the OSHA intervention that ensued at the plant following a machine guarding inspection in 2013,” Mr. McDonald added. “Ajinomoto Windsor needs to make fundamental changes inside of its workplace to protect workers on the job and to comply with federal safety standards.”
On June 15, OSHA cited Ajinomoto Windsor for two repeated, eight serious, and three other-than-serious safety violations with penalties totaling $140,000.
Since Jan. 1, 2015, OSHA requires all employers to report any severe work-related injury resulting in a hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye within 24 hours. In the first full year of the program, Missouri employers reported 88 amputations. OSHA says that improperly guarded machinery and other amputation hazards remain one of the biggest risks to U.S. workers.