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Pizza Maker Nets $2.8M in Penalties after Preventable Death

The woman reportedly didn't receive training on how to stop a machine.

An OSHA investigation revealed that a frozen pizza manufacturing plant could have prevented a sanitation worker’s death with proper machine safety procedures.

The incident occurred last December while an overnight shift employee worked under Miracapo Pizza Company’s supervision at a sheeting facility in Gurnee, Illinois. OSHA inspectors reported that the worker, a 29-year-old woman, was using compressed air to clean a spiral conveyor when her head was caught in machinery.

According to investigators, the woman, a temporary worker provided by an Illinois staffing firm, did not receive training on how to stop the equipment from moving before cleaning it. She was also not given the authority to stop the equipment. 

Other issues discovered during the inspection included deficient lockout/tagout procedures, lack of adequate machine guards and fall and electrical hazards.

The woman’s death occurred a month after a worker suffered an amputation while performing maintenance work on a sauce depositor at the Gurnee facility, an incident that resulted in over $290,000 in proposed OSHA penalties. The same plant also saw a worker’s fingertip amputated while attempting to clear a jammed pizza conveyor in 2021.

Following the investigation of the December incident, OSHA cited Miracapo Pizza Company for 16 willful egregious violations, one willful violation and 12 serious violations and issued over $2.8 million in penalties. OSHA also placed the pizza manufacturer in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program. 

Miracapo Pizza Company’s sanitation contractor GDI Services Inc., which provides third-shift sanitation crews, also received a citation for two serious and two willful violations and approximately $334,000 in proposed penalties. 

The companies have 15 business days to comply, contest the findings or request an informal conference with OSHA.

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