OSHA Turns Up Heat on Ga. Bakery Following Fatality

The company is fined for machine guard violations following fatal accident.

OSHA cited European Bakers Ltd. and proposed fines totaling $119,700 following a fatal accident at the company''s Tucker, Ga., facility.

The accident occurred Feb. 10 when an employee climbed an 8-foot portable ladder to inspect a machine while it was running, according to OSHA.

As a result, the employee''s arm was caught in the machine''s conveyor system, and he was dragged into a pinch point created by the conveyor moving past a fixed structural support. The worker died of asphyxiation caused by chest compression.

Following inspection of the Tucker plant, OSHA cited the company for 18 serious violations with proposed penalties totaling $70,200. Included among them was a citation for failing to guard the conveyor to protect workers from moving parts. Improper use of ladders, poor housekeeping and electrical hazards were also cited as serious violations.

One willful violation drew a $49,500 penalty for machine guarding deficiencies. In an area of the plant separate from the accident site, plexiglass panel guards on a machine called a proofer were pushed out of the way to allow workers to remove by hand excess dough that falls into the machine. This practice exposed employees to amputation hazards at the unguarded chains and sprockets.

"This company was aware that its employees were not protected from moving parts," said Ray Finney, OSHA''s Atlanta-East area director. "The plexiglass panel guards that were removed from an overhead proofer placed the workers at risk of serious injury.

"Our experience indicates that an effective safety and health program that has management commitment, supervisory accountability and employee participation will significantly reduce the type of fatal accident that occurred in this instance."

Finney urged employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health to contact OSHA''s toll-free, nationwide hotline at (800) 321-OSHA. The hotline can be used to report workplace accidents or fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers.

European Bakers, a subsidiary of Mrs. Smith''s Bakery, which is a division of Flowers Industries, employs approximately 250 workers who produce bread and other bakery products at the Tucker location.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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