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Workplace Safety Violations at Bakeries

A man died last week at a fortune cookie factory at a Houston company that operates a similar bakery in Nashville, Tennessee and is based in Brooklyn, New York. He reportedly fell into a giant dough mixer and died of multiple blunt trauma injuries. The company, Wonton Food Company, is one of the largest manufacturers of fortune cookies in the United States, reportedly making 4 million cookies every day and shipping them throughout the world.

When the employee was found by co-workers, he was already dead , his body mangled by the mixing machine. It is not known what type of industrial mixing equipment was involved in the fatality, although mixers in similar facilities have horizontal spinning arms that mix and heat the dough before dropping a huge ball into a vat.

The factory in Houston has had no serious OSHA violations and has never experienced a workplace fatality before. However, bakeries can be dangerous workplaces, a fact reflected in reports of workplace safety violations in recent years.

For example, a bakery in Maine recently received notice of fines of $104,700. California OSHA issued one of its largest fines ever in January to a bakery, proposing $230,535 for 20 violations, some of which led to the amputation of workers' limbs. In 2013, a Massachusetts bakery worker strangled after her apron became caught in the dough machine. Zaro Bake Shop in the Bronx was fined in 2012 for 26 serious violations. In 2011, the bakery division of a Rochester supermarket chain was cited for repeat violations and fined $195,000 for safety violations that included machine start-ups during maintenance.

Source: Examine, "Man dies at fortune cookie factory: Worker died after falling into dough mixer," May 3, 2014.

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