Workers-Gathering-Items

Sugar Plant Removed Safety Device 13 Days before Temp Worker's Death

Sugar clumps kept clogging the massive hopper, forcing the workers to climb inside with shovels to help the granules flow out the funnel-like hole at the bottom.

OSHA investigators recently discovered that a Pennsylvania sugar plant removed a critical safety device just 13 days before a worker drowned in sugar because a manager believed it was slowing down production.

Here is what happened.

Inside the sugar plant in Fairless Hills, Pa., nobody could find Janio Salinas, a 50-year-old temp worker from just over the New Jersey border.

Throughout the morning, Salinas and a handful of other workers had been bagging mounds of sugar for a company that supplies the makers of Snapple drinks and Ben & Jerry's ice cream. But sugar clumps kept clogging the massive hopper, forcing the workers to climb inside with shovels to help the granules flow out the funnel-like hole at the bottom.

Coming back from lunch that day in February 2013, one employee said he had seen Salinas digging in the sugar. But when he looked back, Salinas was gone. All that remained was a shovel buried up to its handle. Then, peering through a small gap in the bottom of the hopper, someone noticed what appeared to be blue jeans.

It was Salinas. He had been buried alive in sugar.

As harrowing as the accident was, federal safety investigators recently discovered something perhaps even more disturbing: A safety device that would have prevented Salinas's death had been removed just 13 days before the accident because a manager believed it was slowing down production.

More the safety issues on EHS Today.

EHS Today is an NED companion site within Penton’s Manufacturing & Supply Chain Group.

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