OSHA’s finds J.M. Smucker’s facility lacks energy control procedures in federal investigation of employee’s amputation injury
Employer name: The J.M. Smucker Company
1 Strawberry Lane
Citations issued: Oct. 21, 2016
Investigation findings: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued one repeated and one serious safety violation to The J.M. Smucker Company, after the agency’s investigated an incident in which a 39-year-old maintenance employee suffered the amputation of the tip of his right index finger on July 29, 2016 at its Orrville facility.
OSHA found the company failed to develop procedures to control gravity as an energy source. The employee was cleaning a valve body when it fell into the valve housing amputating the tip of his finger. The agency cited the company for a similar violation in November of 2013, at the same facility.
Unrelated to the incident, agency inspectors found that the company also exposed workers to struck-by hazards from an overhead obstruction above a staircase in the facility.
Quote: “All too often, OSHA finds employers are complacent with machine safety features and conduct maintenance and other tasks without taking all steps to prevent machinery from movement,” said Howard Eberts, area director of OSHA’s Cleveland office. “The J.M. Smucker Company should re-evaluate its machine safety programs and procedures to ensure they are effective.”
Proposed Penalties: $60,571.
View Citations here.
Background: Based in Orrville, The J. M. Smucker Company is a leading marketer and manufacturer of consumer food and beverage products and pet food and pet snacks in North America.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Cleveland Area Office at 216-447-4194.
OSHA News Brief:
Jars of jellies, jams, preserves and ice cream toppings are among the products zipping along new production lines at J.M. Smucker Co.’s newest manufacturing plant in Orrville.
The new plant at the food company’s headquarters first started new production last June and when fully operational by next year will have seven lines in place, making 325 different products, including seven sizes of glass jars and three plastic containers.
The plant makes many of the company’s well-known products, including Smucker’s jellies, jams and preserves — both in packaging for retail stores and single serve, or portion-controlled packaging for restaurants and institutions — as well as ice cream toppings and Hungry Jack syrups, which are new to the plant.
Company spokeswoman Maribeth Burns said Smucker does not disclose financial details on its investments. The company previously said the new plant would cost more than $100 million.
Construction projects are guided by what the company calls its “Sustainability Strategy,” which includes an emphasis on reducing energy usage, said Brian Kinsey, Smucker director of operations. Examples of energy reduction features include a high-efficiency lighting system, high-efficiency boiler stack economizers, and reflective roofing and concrete paving to minimize heat effects.
“The expansion and efficiencies gained through the introduction of new automation technology will allow this facility to produce twice as much,” Kinsey said.
The new plant has more than doubled in size from the previous plant, which was a 60-year-old, 150,000-square-foot facility. The new facility is 460,000 square feet, including 300,000 square feet of new production space and 160,000 square feet of warehouse facilities.
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AdvertisementThe new plant is attached to the existing warehouse. Parts of the old plant’s areas will be incorporated into the recently announced headquarters campus expansion, which includes two new buildings and a nearby day-care area. Portions of the old plant will be repurposed into what has been called the Innovation Center, which will be retail-customer focused and provide a centralized area for clients to meet with various Smucker teams. Parts of the old plant will be razed for the new buildings on campus.
Smucker employs 300 people in the plant, down from 425. The new plant has efficiencies and more automation and positions were eliminated by attrition and an early retirement package, Burns said. No layoffs occurred, she said.
In 2010, the company announced it would cut 40 percent of its production workforce in Orrville, or about 180 factory workers, and attributed it at the time to “new technologies and efficiency improvements,” allowing for more products to be made with fewer people.
The company announced it would close a jam and jelly plant in Ste. Marie, Quebec, and earlier this year changed plans to close a plant in Memphis, Tenn., when growth in its peanut butter businesses meant it needed more production, switching it from a fruit spread facility to mostly peanut butter.
The company will also repurpose a plant in New Bethlehem, Pa., to make nut butter products.
In recent years, the company has also invested in its Ripon, Wis., plant, which makes jams and jellies, and its peanut butter operations in Lexington, Ky.
The company has about 1,700 employees on its main Orrville campus. The maker of food brands Smucker, Folgers, Jif, Crisco and Pillsbury most recently acquired Rowland Coffee and Sara Lee Beverage for Foodservice. Both of those brought more employees to the main campus that has One Strawberry Lane as its address.
“The designed mixture of the skilled employees leveraging state-of-the-art automation technology is a great reflection of Smucker’s commitment to product quality and safety,” Kinsey said.
Indoor rail depot
In a new indoor rail depot at the new plant, train cars bring in corn syrup every three days to the two rail lines inside the building. Building the depot allows rail cars to avoid stopping traffic on a main street in Orrville, Wadsworth Road or state Route 57, for a few moments for deliveries, Burns said.
The rail cars can each carry 17,000 to 21,000 pounds of corn syrup. The new depot allows up to 12 to 18 cars to come at a time when before it was six, said Renee Patterson, Smucker buyer of indirect materials, who was giving a tour of the plant.
According to the company, the Orrville plant is the largest fruit spreads manufacturing facility in the world. It is more than 10 acres under one roof — the equivalent of eight football fields.