The US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited the firm for six serious safety violations.
A 31-year-old engineer was fatally injured in May this year, when his head was struck by an unguarded rotating gear arm on a piece of bakery equipment.
FoodQualityNews.com has contacted the company for comment on OSHA’s verdict.
Checking the oil level
OSHA's inspection found that the employee, who had been with the company six years, was attempting to check the oil level of the encoder gear box on a bakery loader after the equipment was serviced. The machine guards had not been reinstalled following maintenance.
He placed his head into the gearbox area to get a better view of the oil level when the gear arm unexpectedly rotated and struck him in the head, catching him between the machine's gear arm and frame.
Angeline Loftus, OSHA's area director at its Chicago North Office in Des Plaines, said it was ‘unacceptable’ that Alpha Baking Co. would expose workers to unguarded machinery.
“This tragic loss of life could have been prevented by ensuring workers were not exposed to dangerous equipment without safety mechanisms.
"Injuries involving machinery and equipment often result in death or permanent disability. OSHA continues to focus on identifying and eliminating these types of hazards."
Other amputation and caught-in hazards were found at the facility and included failure to implement specific lockout/tagout procedures to prevent machinery from operating during service and maintenance.
About the company
Alpha Baking Co. employs 1,400 workers and produces hot dog and hamburger buns and other bread goods at two plants in Chicago and one in La Porte, Indiana.
The company sells its products under the S. Rosen's, Mary Ann, Kreamo, Golden Hearth and Natural Ovens brand names.
It has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference, or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.