STERLING, MA – A U.S. Department of Labor investigation found that a plastic packaging manufacturer – with a history of workplace safety and health inspections – could have prevented a worker at its Sterling facility from suffering severe burns if they had complied with OSHA’s requirements for lockout/tagout and provided personal protective equipment.
Investigators from the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that a worker for Berry Global Inc. was sprayed with hot liquid plastic as they changed a screen on a plastic bag extruder machine on Sept. 23, 2021.
In the last five years, OSHA has inspected Berry Global Inc. in various U.S. locations more than 40 times. These inspections include two fatality inspections in New Jersey and Wisconsin related to lockout/tagout violations. The company has contested both inspections.
Following its inspection in Sterling, OSHA found that the company failed to establish and use lockout/tagout procedures or eliminate employee’s exposure to protect workers from the extruder machine while they serviced or maintained it, did not train workers in lockout/tagout procedures and did not conduct periodic inspections to ensure procedures were followed. OSHA also found that the company did not provide appropriate personal protective equipment to ensure that employees were protected when servicing the extruder.
OSHA cited Berry Global Inc. for two willful violations and one repeat violation and has proposed $369,815 in penalties. Read the citations issued to Berry Global Inc.
“Berry Global Inc. could have prevented this worker’s injuries if the company had followed required safeguards,” said OSHA Area Director Mary Hoye in Springfield, Massachusetts. “OSHA will hold employers accountable when they knowingly disregard their legal responsibility to provide workers a safe and healthful workplace.”
Berry Global Inc. meets the requirements for the Severe Violator Enforcement Program because one of the proposed willful, and the proposed repeat citation, are high emphasis standards of lockout/tagout.
Founded in 1967, Berry Global Group Inc. manufactures and supplies products for household, healthcare, personal care, food and beverage, and industrial markets in North and South America, Europe and Asia. Headquartered in Evansville, Indiana, the company has about 47,000 global employees at more than 295 locations, including its location in Sterling where plastic bags are manufactured.
Berry Global Inc. 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.
Learn more about OSHA and working safely in plastic products manufacturing.