Tootsie Roll Industries face fine after employee’s finger cut off by machine

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Major American candy manufacturer Tootsie Roll Industries faces a $136,000 fine from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after an employee working at its Chicago factory lost part of their finger in a machine.

OSHA recommended a penalty of $136,532 for Tootsie Roll Industries after they found that safety locks on a machine’s access doors in the Chicago plant had been bypassed, which enabled a bag sealer to close on the employee’s finger in April 2021. The employee had reached into an open area of the machine to remove a loose piece of paper that had become stuck inside. The mechanism usually used to seal bags of candy shut on the worker’s hand and severed one of his fingers, resulting in partial amputation. 

Tootsie Roll Industries issued a statement disagreeing with the proposed fine. It said: “We do not agree with the alleged violation and are investigating it. We intend to meet with OSHA to discuss the basis for the citation and to enter into a dialogue to hopefully reach a mutually agreeable resolution.”

Tootsie Roll Industries is the maker of classic candies like its eponymous Tootsie Roll, Tootsie Pop, Blow Pop, Charleston Chews and Junior Mints. The brand is sold internationally but headquartered in Chicago, where this incident occurred. 

According to OSHA statistics for 2020, citations regarding machinery and machine guarding were the tenth-most issued to employers. Contact with equipment is responsible for more than 25 percent of all nonfatal workplace injuries, making it the third most common workplace accident category. This includes incidents like this one in which a body part is crushed or cut by machinery and others like being struck by an object or injured by vibrations or force from equipment. 

Employers must always provide safe working conditions for their employees. If you or a loved one were hurt at work, you could qualify for workers’ compensation. These benefits help cover living expenses, lost wages and medical bills after a work injury and are available to most Illinois workers.

Contact the Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg to learn more. We can answer all your questions and guide you through the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim.

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