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Finger amputations lead to safety citations for frozen food maker


A California frozen food manufacturer is facing $140,000 in proposed penalties after being cited by federal workplace safety regulators after two incidents in which workers suffered finger amputations.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said two workers at Ontario, California-based Ajinomoto Windsor Inc.'s Piedmont, Missouri, facility suffered amputation injuries because the employer failed to install adequate safety guards to keep workers' hands out of machine danger zones, according to an agency press release issued Tuesday.

In December 2015, a 54-year-old sanitation worker lost more than half of his right index finger and another finger while clearing debris from a breading machine, with a third finger damaged and later surgically amputated, according to the release. In January, a reciprocating blade severed the tip of a 30-year-old production worker's left middle finger as he tried to unjam a bagging machine without adequate safeguards.

OSHA cited the company for two repeat, eight serious and three other-than-serious safety violations after citing it for similar machine hazards at the Piedmont facility in 2013, according to the release.

“It's hard to imagine the agony and pain these workers suffered when their fingers were amputated,” Bill McDonald, OSHA's area director in St. Louis, said in the statement. “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. Ajinomoto Windsor needs to make fundamental changes inside of its workplace to protect workers on the job and to comply with federal safety standards.”

Since Jan. 1, 2015, OSHA has required all employers to report any severe work-related injury — defined as a hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye — within 24 hours.

In the first full year of the program, Missouri employers reported 88 amputations, according to the agency.

A company spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.

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