The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a serious citation and fine to the Mars Wrigley corporation after two workers fell in a tank used to manufacture chocolate. Emergency responders had to cut a hole in the bottom of the tank to free the workers. And both were taken to the hospital, one by helicopter.
The two workers were not employees of Mars Wrigley. Rather, they were outside contractors performing maintenance work on a vat used to make Dove chocolate. The tank was partially filled with chocolate at the time of the accident.
The OSHA Violation Detail states that one of Mars Wrigley’s own employees was involved with “the control of hazardous energy” in the tank. And that the company failed to ensure that that employee understood “the type and magnitude of the energy for the task.”
Additionally, entry into the tank is permitted. The two outside employees needed to verify that any flowable material in the tank was isolated prior to entry. The chocolate manufacturer failed to provide the two contractors, who were cleaning the vat, “with the correct energy control procedure or work authorization permit” required to safely enter and work in the tank.
The techniques used to isolate confined spaces with flowable hazards are found in paragraph (b) of 29 CFR 1910.146. These techniques are blanking or blinding; misaligning or removing sections of lines or pipes; or a double block and bleed system.
This incident at the Mars Wrigley plant occurred in June of 2022. After an investigation, OSHA levied a fine of $14,500 in December.