An ice cream manufacturer in New Jersey is facing more than $237,000 in fines after two of its workers suffered separate “severe amputation injuries” while trying to fix the same ice-cream wrapping machine.
The Fieldbrook Foods Corp. in Lakewood has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for “willfully” failing to shut down the machine prior to maintenance, resulting in a mechanic losing two fingers during a 2020 incident. The same machine injured a sanitation worker in 2018, when his fingers became caught in the jammed equipment. As a result, he lost one finger and fractured another, OSHA confirmed.
At the time, OSHA indicated that the worker involved in the 2018 incident was employed at Fieldbrook-owned Mister Cookie Face LLC, a manufacturer of ice cream sandwiches.
OSHA found Fieldbrook Foods at fault for failing to properly shut down the machine before both incidents. The company now faces proposed penalties of $237,176.
“Fieldbrook Foods knew that machines must be completely disabled before workers perform service and maintenance,” said OSHA Area Director Paula Dixon-Roderick, in a news release issued Monday. “Instead of addressing the cited amputation hazards which led to two serious injuries, the company continues to expose its workers to dangerous machinery.”
Fieldbrook Farms has 15 days from the date of notice (March 15) to address the penalties or contest OSHA’s findings. A representative for Wells Enterprises, which owns the Fieldbrook Foods Corp., has since confirmed that the company will dispute OSHA’s findings.
Wells Enterprises considers workplace safety an utmost priority, and we cooperated fully with OSHAs investigation conducted at the Lakewood, New Jersey, manufacturing facility in September 2020. Wells disputes OSHAs findings and intends to contest the citation to attempt to set the record straight,” reads a statement attributed to the company.
“Wells is committed to keeping employees safe while at work, and we continuously monitor our safety policies and procedures for the benefit of all our employees. “
Wells Enterprises, headquartered in Le Mars, Iowa, also owns popular ice cream brands Blue Bunny and Halo Top.