While cleaning an auger used to rice potatoes, a 39-year-old production worker at BEF Foods Inc. in Lima, Ohio found her left arm caught in a running auger. The worker suffered multiple lacerations and the partial amputation of her arm. Co-workers had to cut the auger apart to free her arm.
An investigation in September 2020 by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that BEF Foods Inc. failed to shut down and isolate energy to the auger during maintenance work, a process known as lockout/tagout. The company, which operates as Bob Evans Farms, also failed to train employees on the required use of lockout/tagout procedures when conducting maintenance activities.
OSHA has proposed penalties of $136,532 for two repeat violations of machine safety standards. The agency cited BEF Foods Inc. for similar violations in 2016 at the same facility.
“Machines and equipment must be disabled before workers perform service and maintenance to prevent unexpected startup or release of hazardous energy,” said OSHA Area Director Kimberly Nelson in Toledo, Ohio. “OSHA has specific regulations for implementing required training and safety procedures to protect workers from dangerous machinery.”
Based in Columbus, BEF Foods is also a leading producer and distributor of refrigerated potato, pasta and vegetable-based side dishes, pork sausage, and a variety of refrigerated and frozen convenience food items under the Bob Evans, Owens and Pineland Farms brand names. Owned by Post Holdings Inc., BEF Foods employs more than 1,000 workers nationwide and 350 at the Lima facility.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.