On September 23, 2021, a Berry Global employee was changing a screen on a plastic bag extruder at the company's plant in Sterling, Massachusetts, when the worker was sprayed with hot liquid plastic and suffered severe burns.
This week, OSHA hit the repeat offender with some $370,000 in penalties.
During the investigation, OSHA found that the plastic packaging manufacturer could have prevented the injuries had the company complied with lockout/tagout protocols and provided proper personal protective equipment, like a face shield, welding jacket and leg protection.
Based in Evansville, Indiana, Berry Global was cited for two willful violations, one repeat violation and is facing $369,815 in penalties.
In the last five years, OSHA has inspected various Berry Global locations more than 40 times. These inspections included fatalities in New Jersey and Wisconsin related to lockout/tagout violations.
In July 2017, a 46-year-old worker was crushed and killed while adjusting a printing press at the Berry Plastics plant in Philipsburg, New Jersey. The employee was performing maintenance on a printing press armature and had opened an access panel. The employee stuck his head inside the access panel when a coworker started the equipment.
In October 2020, a 54-year-old worker also died as the result of a head injury after being struck by a rider roller in Chippewa Falls, WI.
In Wisconsin, Berry is contesting the investigation and $40,959 in fines. In New Jersey, the company faced an initial penalty of $77,064, but settled for $32,000.
Berry Global makes packaging products that serve multiple industries around the world. The company has about 47,000 employees at more than 295 locations.
We reached out to Berry Global, but the company has not yet responded to our request for comment.