A federal agency has recommended that Tootsie Roll Industries pay more than $136,000 in fines after a machine at its Chicago plant cut off part of an employee's finger this year.
The U.S. Department of Labor said in a news release Tuesday that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued one willful violation Sept. 24 “for inadequate machine guarding” and proposed the fines after an investigation into the April 19 incident.
The Labor Department said a 48-year-old employee reached into a machine to remove stuck paper debris when a bag sealer snapped shut on one of his fingers. The incident happened after the company allowed the machine's access doors to remain unguarded, the department said.
“Hundreds of workers are injured needlessly each year because employers ignore safety guards, often to speed up production, and that’s exactly what happened in this case,” OSHA Chicago South Area Director James Martineck said in the release. “Employers must never put profits before people. When they do and fail to meet their obligations to keep workers safe, we will take action to hold them accountable.”
Get Chicago local news, weather forecasts, sports and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Chicago newsletters.
Tootsie Roll Industries said in a statement: “We do not agree with the alleged violation and are investigating it. ... We intend to meet with OSHA to discuss the basis for the citation and to enter into a dialogue to hopefully reach a mutually agreeable resolution."
The company can also contest the findings before an independent OSHA review commission, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, and pay the fines.