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Two Workers Injured at Ohio Rice-Cake Plant

Coldwater, OH ( - In response to a complaint of an electrical shock injury, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that a 20-year employee was injured while he performed service work on an electrical panel at a Coldwater rice-cake manufacturer. Following the investigation, OSHA has cited Basic Grain Products Inc. for two repeated and five serious safety violations.

The employee missed two days of work due to the electrical shock injury which occurred Aug. 18, 2014. OSHA also learned that another employee missed 20 workdays and was on restricted duty for an additional 22 days after part of his ring finger was amputated on June 19, 2014, as he adjusted a machine used to make rice cakes.

"Basic Grain Products must ensure that its workers are not exposed to dangerous machinery and are never expected to conduct maintenance without shutting down electrical and energy sources," said Kim Nelson, OSHA's area director in Toledo. "Those actions can prevent severe injuries like those suffered by these workers."

OSHA's investigation determined that the employee who suffered the amputation injury while servicing the rice-cake machine was exposed to the operating parts of the machinery because it had not been properly powered down before maintenance.

The investigation also found Basic Grain Products failed to implement electrical safety-related work practices, which included no use of personal protective equipment; untrained workers; and inadequate clearance in front of electrical panels. These violations resulted in five serious safety citations. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA also cited the company for exposing workers to unguarded rice-cake machines that had been improperly powered down to prevent them from starting up during maintenance. These violations exposed workers to amputation and laceration hazards. Similar violations were found at the company in 2013. OSHA issues repeated citations when a company has been cited previously for the same or a similar violation at any facility within federal enforcement states in the past five years.

Based in Coldwater with about 130 employees, Basic Grain Products is one of the largest private-label manufacturers and suppliers of rice cakes and other healthy snacks to supermarkets nationwide. The company faces proposed penalties of $58,410.

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.


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