Ferrara fined by OSHA for allegedly exposing workers to amputation hazards at Bellwood candy factory

Ferrara Candy Co. has been cited for alleged safety violations at its Bellwood candy factory, two years after being placed on a severe violator enforcement program for safety issues, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Wednesday.

OSHA said that Ferrara exposed workers to amputation risks at the facility because it did not use energy control procedures before workers cleared jams and repaired equipment.

OSHA inspectors found the alleged violations after an April complaint about unsafe working conditions. The agency has proposed that the company pay fines of more than $200,000.

“Ferrara Candy Co. knows that its workers can suffer debilitating injuries, including amputations, when machines are not properly shut down before they are repaired or maintained,” Angeline Loftus, OSHA director for North Chicago, said in a statement. “However, company personnel continue to unnecessarily expose employees to these hazards.”

The company was also cited for failing to provide an eyewash station and for allowing workers to operate poorly maintained powered industrial trucks.

Ferrara has 15 business days to comply with the sanctions, contest them or request an informal conference with the OSHA area director.

In a statement, the company said it plans to meet with OSHA within the next 15 days and is fully cooperating with the investigation. Ferrara said it hires former OSHA officials to “regularly review and strengthen our health and safety practices by enhancing our safety audits, trainings and education that protect our employees, contractors and visitors.”

“The health and safety of our team members is the highest priority at Ferrara, and we work diligently to maintain a safe operating environment,” the company said.

it’s not the first time Ferrara was cited for similar alleged violations at the Bellwood facility. In 2020, one worker had a fingertip amputated after coming into contact with an unprotected rotary valve and another was hospitalized after becoming trapped in a machine, according to OSHA.

Ferrara paid fines of nearly $330.00 after those incidents and was placed on a severe offender enforcement program. Ferrara is no longer in the severe offender program and was not at the time of the investigation, according to Scott Allen, regional director of public affairs for the US Department of Labor.

In March, the company was cited for an alleged security breach at a facility on 110th Street in Chicago. The company settled informally in that case and agreed to pay fines of about $14,500. The case is still open.

Ferrara was founded in Chicago in 1908 and was acquired by Italian candy giant Ferrero in 2017.

The maker of Lemonheads moved its corporate headquarters from Oakbrook Terrace to Old Post Office downtown in 2019. This summer, parent company Ferrero said it would open a 45,000-square-foot innovation facility in the historic Marshall Field and Co. building and relocate its corporate employees there. Ferrara employees, however, it will remain in the Old Post Office.

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