U.S. Department of Labor proposes $145K in Fines after Worker Suffers Fatal Injury at Chicago-area Pizza Manufacturer

U.S. Department of Labor proposes $145K in Fines after Worker Suffers Fatal Injury at Chicago-area Pizza Manufacturer

Sanitation workers were exposed to equipment hazards during cleaning operations.

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 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. The company 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.

About the Author

Shereen Hashem is the Associate Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety magazine.

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