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Employee Strangles on Equipment in Bakery, OSHA Cites Employer

Employee Strangles on Equipment in Bakery, OSHA Cites Employer

A Malden, Mass., bakery has been cited by OSHA for worker’s death; family and advocates call for increased safety compliance.

Three months after investigating Piantedosi Baking Co. Inc. following the death of a worker, OSHA has issued citations and $20,790 in penalties to the Malden, Mass.-based business for serious safety violations.

Yogambigai Pasupathipillai, a 61-year-old Sri Lankan immigrant, was working at the bakery the afternoon of Aug. 15 when her apron apparently became caught in a conveyor belt, strangling her. OSHA cited the bakery for inadequate guarding, insufficient stop buttons and a failure to ensure an emergency stop button was the proper color (red). All are safety measures required to prevent workers from getting caught in machinery and allowing machines to quickly be shut down in the case of an emergency.

OSHA previously cited the bakery in 2011 after a 43-year-old female lost a finger operating a packing line for baked goods. Two conveyors came together, creating a dangerous nip point. The resulting amputation required hospitalization for the worker.

According to the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH), a workplace safety advocacy group, since the year 2000, 21 Massachusetts workers have lost their lives as a result of being crushed in machinery – most often due to inadequate machine guarding and other OSHA-mandated safety measures. MassCOSH compiles fatality data collected by the state’s Occupational Health Surveillance Program and OSHA.

“Because of the inherent dangers in working with machinery, OSHA has strict standards to ensure that workers remain safe on the job,” said MassCOSH Executive Director Marcy Goldstein-Gelb. “Any machine part, function or process that can cause injury and must be safeguarded… When the operation of a machine or accidental contact with it can injure the operator or others in the vicinity, the hazards must be either controlled or eliminated.

Pasupathipillai arrived in Massachusetts 17 years ago through the Unites States Green Card lottery with the hopes of working in America to support her family back home.

“I want to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen to anybody [ever again],” said her only relative in the United States, Thiru Satchi.

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