Hearthside was cited on September 21 by the US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Toledo Area Office for two “serious” safety violations and one repeated violation.
Hearthside’s websites touts the company as “nation's largest independent bakery; serving the world's premier consumer brands”. It has 23 facilities across the world with 6,000 workers and produces cookies, crackers and other snacks. The OSHA citation noted that its clients include companies such as Kellogg, General Mills and Nabisco.
According to OSHA’s investigation, a 55-year-old employee of Hearthside lost part of his middle finger at the company’s facility when trying to un-jam a dough-cutting machine. The machine “lacked adequate guarding to protect him from dangerous moving parts,” the citation said.
Hearthside was also cited for a similar violation in 2010, which resulted in this being classified by OSHA as a repeated violation.
"This worker suffered the permanent loss of part of his finger because his employer of three years failed to follow basic safety procedures," said Kim Nelson, OSHA's area director in Toledo, in a statement. "It is disheartening to cite an employer repeatedly for hazards they know are exposing workers to life-altering injuries like this."
In addition to the repeated citation, OSHA issued two serious violations to the company for not properly training employees on safety procedures in preventing exposure to open parts of machinery and failing to power-down machines during maintenance.
In full, the proposed penalty for the company is $52,500.
Response from Hearthside
Hearthside sent BakeryandSnacks a statement on the OSHA citation, which said the company is "deeply committed to worker safety."
"Our 19 facility network invests constantly in all aspects of safety; including processes, equipment, and training. Evidence of our ongoing safety record is an OSHA Incident Rate (OIR) of 1.6 compared to an industry average of 5.0," the statement said.
"This OSHA-generated statistic makes us one of the industry’s safest food producers. It is an official statistic that has improved every year since we began this company. Everyone at Hearthside treats safety as a governing value, placing it above all other concerns."
The company said they were disappointed that OSHA "unnecessarily and publicly disclosed confidential business information related to this issue".
Hearthside did not offer any additional comments on specifics of the OSHA citation.
According to the OSHA complaint, Hearthside has 15 business days to contest these citations. The company will need to send OSHA an “abatement certification,” or proof that the problems were corrected, within 10 days.