Department Of Labor

$1.9 Million Fine Sought Against Cincinnati Processor for Leg Amputation

April 10, 2023
Department Of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration seeks to fine Zwanenberg Food Group USA for ignoring safety standards.

The U.S. Dept. of Labor has proposed a $1.9 million penalty on Zwanenberg Food Group USA Inc., Cincinnati, for an accident last fall in which an overnight sanitation worker had his leg amputated.

The Dept. of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined Zwanenberg did not train sanitation workers to lockout the equipment prior to cleaning, exposing them to moving machine parts. OSHA cited the plant for similar violations less than two weeks before the injury.

The stiff penalty was proposed after OSHA cited 11 “willful, four serious, one repeat and one other-than-serious violations, most involving required machine safety procedures that isolate energy to prevent movement during cleaning and maintenance.” The agency placed Zwanenberg in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program in 2017.

“While working the overnight sanitation shift ... a 29-year-old temporary worker – on the job just nine months – suffered critical injuries after falling into an industrial blender he was cleaning and became caught in the rotating paddle augers,” OSHA wrote about the Oct. 12, 2022, incident. “The worker’s injuries led to a leg amputation.”

“This young man suffered a preventable debilitating injury because his employer failed to train him and the majority of its third-shift sanitation workers adequately to lockout equipment to ensure their own safety,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Bill Donovan in Chicago. “This tragedy is compounded by the fact that OSHA cited Zwanenberg for similar violations two weeks prior, and they continued to ignore their responsibility to protect workers in their plant.”

The agency also found Zwanenberg failed to verify changes to the lockout/tagout procedures, retrain workers when changes occurred, periodically test the procedures and correct deviations. Trip hazards, electrical safe work procedures, lack of eye protection and personal protective equipment assessments were also noted.

OSHA cited Zwanenberg Food Group USA in 2017, and on Sept. 30, 2022, for violations of machine safety procedures and other hazards. The company has contested those past violations but has not yet responded to this current incident.

Based in Cincinnati, Zwanenberg Food Group USA is a subsidiary of Holland-based Zwanenberg Food Group, founded in 1875. The privately held food company has 12 production facilities in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the U.S. Zwanenberg’s product line includes cooked ham, chili, luncheon meat, soups, stew, corned beef hash and pastas marketed under the Vietti, Southgate, Halal and private label brands. The company employs about 175 workers at the Cincinnati facility.

About the Author

Dave Fusaro | Editor in Chief

Dave Fusaro has served as editor in chief of Food Processing magazine since 2003. Dave has 30 years experience in food & beverage industry journalism and has won several national ASBPE writing awards for his Food Processing stories. Dave has been interviewed on CNN, quoted in national newspapers and he authored a 200-page market research report on the milk industry. Formerly an award-winning newspaper reporter who specialized in business writing, he holds a BA in journalism from Marquette University. Prior to joining Food Processing, Dave was Editor-In-Chief of Dairy Foods and was Managing Editor of Prepared Foods.

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