CHICAGO (CBS) — Ferrara Candy Company – makers of Keebler cookies, Lemonheads candies, and more – is facing nearly half a million dollars in fines over two incidents that left employees severely injured at its plant in west suburban Bellwood.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued $485,008 in penalties against Ferrara Candy and placed the company on the agency’s severe violator list, after one employee’s fingertip was amputated in January after coming into contact with an unguarded rotary valve, and another got caught in a machine in March.
OSHA determined the company provided inadequate machine guarding, failed to provide proper lockout devices, and did not perform sufficient periodic inspections of lockout procedures and train employees on those procedures. Ferrara also was cited for failing to maintain electrical protective gloves, failing to conduct proper employee safety training, failure to provide insulated electrical tools, and failure to record a work-related injury.
“Proper safety procedures, including machine guarding and the effective lockout of all sources of energy, could have prevented these employees’ injuries,” said Chicago North OSHA Area Director Angeline Loftus. “Employers have a legal responsibility to train workers and protect them from exposure to hazards in the workplace.”
Ferrara Candy has 15 days to comply with the citations, request an informal conference with Loftus, or challenge the citations before an independent review commission.
The company said it plans to meet with OSHA on July 23 to discuss the allegations.
“Ferrara will, as appropriate, follow the administrative procedures that are provided for the review of OSHA citations such as these. We recognize the importance of OSHA and its enforcement of standards that assure safe and healthy working conditions for our country’s workforce,” Ferrara Candy head of corporate affairs Sarah Kittel said in a statement. “At Ferrara, we take occupational health and safety seriously and recognize that maintaining a safe work environment requires constant improvement. As part of our commitment to an injury-free workplace, we are working with former OSHA officials to strengthen our current health and safety practices by enhancing our safety audits, trainings and education to keep our employees, contractors and visitors safe every day. At the same time, we view OSHA as a partner in our mission and remain committed to working with the agency to ensure that all of our procedures meet the highest safety standards.”