OSHA cites Malden bakery for worker death; family and advocates call for increased safety compliance

October 30, 2013

Three months after investigating Piantedosi Baking Company, Inc. following the death of a worker, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued citations and $20,790 in penalties to the Malden-based business for serious safety violations.  
61-year-old Yogambigai Pasupathipillai, a Sri Lankan immigrant, was working at the bakery the afternoon of August 15, when her apron apparently became caught in a conveyor belt, strangling her.  OSHA cited the bakery for inadequate guarding, insufficient stop buttons, and a failure to ensure an emergency stop button was the proper color (red), measures required to prevent workers from getting caught in machinery and stopping machines in the case of an emergency.

“Her family never expected that someone would be strangled this way," said a close family member. “She was very careful at work … it’s very hard to take it.”

In 2011, OSHA cited the bakery after a 43-year-old female lost a finger operating a packing line for baked goods. Two conveyors came together, creating a dangerous nip point resulting in an amputation that required hospitalization.
According to the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH), a workplace safety advocacy group, since the year 2000, 21 Massachusetts workers have lost their lives as a result of being crushed in machinery – most often due to inadequate machine guarding and other OSHA-mandated safety measures.   MassCOSH compiles fatality data collected by the state’s Occupational Health Surveillance Program and OSHA. 
“Because of the inherent dangers in working with machinery, OSHA has strict standards to ensure that workers remain safe on the job,” said MassCOSH Executive Director Marcy Goldstein-Gelb. “Any machine part, function, or process that can cause injury and must be safeguarded to prevent events like the one that took Yogambigai from her family; when the operation of a machine or accidental contact with it can injure the operator or others in the vicinity, the hazards must be either controlled or eliminated. Both employers and those who produce industrial machinery need to put worker safety first and foremost knowing lives depend on it.”

Pasupathipillai arrived in Massachusetts 17 years ago through the Unites States Green Card lottery with the hopes of working in America to support her family back home.

“We want to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen to anybody [ever again],” said Thiru Satchi, Pasupathipillai’s sole family member in the country.