OSHA Enforcement ActivityA 31-year-old engineer was fatally injured on May 27, 2014, when his head was struck by an unguarded rotating gear arm on a piece of bakery equipment at Alpha Baking Co. Inc. OSHA has cited the Chicago baking plant for six serious safety violations following the tragic incident.

Caught between gear arm and frame

"It is 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," said Angeline Loftus, OSHA's area director at its Chicago North Office in Des Plaines.

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.

Not the only hazard

Other amputation and caught-in hazards were found at the facility and included the company's failure to implement specific lockout/tagout procedures to prevent machinery from operating during service and maintenance. These violations are among the most frequently cited by OSHA.

OSHA has proposed fines of $42,000 for the violations.

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 currently sells its products under the S. Rosen's, Mary Ann, Kreamo, Golden Hearth and Natural Ovens brand names.