RIPON, WI – A forklift struck and seriously injured a 60-year-old seasonal employee as she walked toward a pallet to label products for shipping at a Ripon facility where vegetables are canned for Libby’s and several other brands.

A subsequent investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration led the agency to propose $177,490 in penalties to Seneca Foods Corp. for two repeat and three serious safety violations involving forklift training and machine safety procedures at the canning facility.

In its November 2020 inspection, OSHA also found that another employee had suffered a fractured finger when it was caught in machinery that the company failed to lockout to prevent unintentional movement, as required. OSHA cited Seneca Foods for similar violations in 2019 at its Gillett facility.

“Employers are responsible for ensuring forklift drivers are re-trained after being involved in an accident or near miss,” said OSHA Area Director Robert Bonack in Appleton, Wisconsin. “OSHA has specific regulations for disabling machines and equipment prior to maintenance and service. Injuries can be prevented by ensuring employees receive required training and follow safety procedures.”

Based in Marion, New York, Seneca Foods is one of North America’s leading providers of packaged fruits and vegetables and distributes to more than 90 countries. The company sources from more than 1,600 American farms for sale under the Libby’s, Aunt Nellie’s, Green Valley and Seneca brands.

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.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

Learn more about OSHA.

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