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Cal/OSHA Fined Amy’s Kitchen $25,000 for Work Safety Violations at a Santa Rosa Factory

Workplace safety inspectors fined organic food giant Amy’s Kitchen $25,070 for three serious violations and 10 other violations after inspections of the company’s food production plant in Santa Rosa in January and February.

Among the more serious violations, according to California Department of Occupational Safety and Health documents submitted this week to The Press Democrat, regulators found that the company did not guarantee that the wafer-making machines contained proper safety guards that secured dangerous machine components. The agency fined Amy $10,125 for oversight.

On the same day, January 31, investigators found that emergency restrooms and eyewash stations could not be reached within 10 seconds or were not kept unobstructed, resulting in a fine of $6750.

Cal/OSHA records show that an investigator visited the plant in three days in late January and early February. Company officials said organizers spent six days in total to conduct the inspections.

In comments, the Sonoma County-based company said it would resume citations because the issues were resolved after inspections but before the state agency publishes its findings on July 29. The company described the result as generally reflecting safe conditions at the plant – and rejected claims by Teamster’s labor regulators that working conditions were dangerously unsafe.

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“The food processing facility at Ami Kitchen Santa Rosa has withstood the test of extensive screening that has proven what we already know — our facilities are safe,” Paul Schaefer, Vice President of Communications, said in a statement.

However, a leader for Teamsters, a labor union that assists plant employees seeking to organize the plant’s workforce, said the state’s sanctions indicated their concerns about the Northpoint Parkway facility.

“Amy’s Kitchen says it is ‘a company relentlessly committed to living by our values,'” Tony DeLorio, an official with Local Teamsters #665, said in a press release published on August 2. The values ​​are the same as Amazon, ExxonMobil or any other Fortune 500 company. : Profit at any cost. Their blatant disregard for safety, verified by CAL/OSHA, is just another example of their “values” on display.

Delorio helped Amy employee Cecilia Luna Ojeda file the complaint with the agency in late January. Ojeda filed the complaint on behalf of all of her co-workers at the North Point plant, which employs about 630 people who cook, pack, freeze and ship ready meals valued by health-conscious consumers across the country, according to the original document.

The union used strong language to raise alarms about conditions at the plant, saying the written complaint that “without immediate action, workers will continue to be injured and/or possibly killed.”

In news stories and in the complaint, workers said the stress of shifts spent on production lines with the rapid, repetitive motions associated with rolling burritos and preparing plates of food led to back strain and chronic injuries. Some workers said that in recent years workers have been forced to increase their speeds on production lines as the company has grown and its production has accelerated.

Emmy officials have denied such allegations and say worker welfare is a priority for the company.

None of the citations focused on reported workplace injuries. However, the inspectors included a warning in the report that such injuries could occur on burrito production lines if the company did not take appropriate precautions.

The inspectors wrote: “Employers’ record in past years (repetitive motion injuries) has shown that there are work areas… that require ergonomic reassessment, exposure control, and employee retraining to reduce” repetitive motion injuries.

EMI officials said the inspectors told them at a meeting at the conclusion of their work that the company had improved its workplace practices to avoid such injuries over the past three years.

The California Department of Occupational Safety and Health did not respond to a request to confirm those comments by Friday afternoon.

After a flurry of rallies and counter-protests at the Santa Rosa factory and at Amy’s restaurant in Rohnert Park early in the year, the drive to form unions in factories has slowed in recent months. DeLorio said efforts were “on hold” while workers and regulators await the results of the state’s investigation. They continued to await the results of a separate complaint filed with B Lab, a group that awards its B Corp certification to companies that meet high standards of environmental and social responsibility.