US federal workplace authorities have fined a popular Pennsylvania candy factory more than $14,500 after two of its employees fell into a large tub of chocolate last year.
In a scene that seemingly could have come straight out of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, two workers last June landed in the tub at the Mars Wrigley factory in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. Neither of the two workers had any injuries when the sticky situation unfolded as they did maintenance work and tumbled into a tank that was partially filled with chocolate.
The tank was reportedly waist-high in chocolate, and first responders had to help cut a hole in the tank to free the two workers as they were unable to get out themselves, local reports said. The employees were hired by an external contracting firm, according to Penn Live. It was not clear how they fell into the tank.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has since cited the multinational food company Mars Wrigley in connection with the accident. According to OSHA, the workers were not authorized to operate in the tanks and were also not sufficiently trained with the safety procedures surrounding factory equipment.
“The employer did not ensure that the employee had the knowledge of the type and magnitude of the energy for the task,” said OSHA, adding: “The host employer did not provide the outside employer with the correct energy control procedure or work authorization permit.”
The citation has been categorized as a “serious” one, according to OSHA.
Last week, a Mars Wrigley spokesperson told the Associated Press that the safety of workers and external contractors “is a top priority for our business”.
“As always, we appreciate OSHA’s collaborative approach to working with us to conduct the after-action review,” the spokesperson added.
The Elizabethtown factory is known for making an assortment of candy including M&Ms and Dove chocolate, according to the local news outlet WHTM.
In a separate workplace incident last year, a 39-year-old worker and father of three fell into an 11ft-deep pot of molten iron and was incinerated at construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar’s factory in Mapleton, Illinois, prompting an OSHA investigation.
In a report released last December by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5,190 fatal work injuries recorded across the country in 2021. That was an 8.9% increase from 4,764 in 2020, when many workplaces didn’t operate at full capacity because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some of the most frequently violated OSHA standards from October 2020 to September 2021 include fall protection in construction, respiratory protection in general industry, ladders in construction and hazard communication in general industry.
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