Skip to main content

Zwanenberg Food Group agrees to pay $1.7M in federal penalties, invest $1.9M in safety improvements at Cincinnati facility

U.S. Department of Labor, Press Release

Zwanenberg Food Group USA Inc., one of the world’s leading suppliers of processed foods, agreed to pay $1.7 million in federal penalties and invest $1.9 million in safety improvements at its Cincinnati plant to resolve hazards found during several investigations by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The safety improvements are included in a settlement agreement, and the matter will be resolved with a final order by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission on June 13.

The agreement resolves OSHA citations issued to Zwanenberg in September 2022 and April and December 2023, after investigations into the cause of injuries suffered by two temporary workers at the plant. Agency inspectors determined the company exposed workers to hazards by allowing machinery to operate without required safety guards during production and not de-energizing equipment during sanitation operations.

“By agreeing to make extensive safety improvements and work with OSHA and industry experts to address workplace hazards, Zwanenberg Food Group will be better equipped to ensure the safety and protect the lives of current employees and future workers at its Cincinnati production facility,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Bill Donovan in Chicago. “Through increased safety measures and regular reporting, we will hold Zwanenberg leadership accountable for changing their corporate culture as they work with industry experts to develop and continually test safety measures and train employees to recognize hazards.”

As part of the settlement, Zwanenberg will make the following safety improvements:

• An analysis by an independent third-party auditor of all equipment.

• Develop and re-write lockout/tagout procedures for all equipment.

• Enhance machine guarding.

• Train employees on the new machine safety procedures, including lockout/tagout.

• Ensure each employee uses and applies their own HASP lock during third-shift sanitation.

• Transition most of its workforce to permanent employees within six months.

• Meet with OSHA at least quarterly to discuss safety and health issues.

• Retain a third-party consultant to audit all personal protective equipment, hazardous communication and lockout/tagout programs.

• Continue the company’s recently adopted “Pre-Startup Safety Review.”

• Conduct an independent audit of its safety training programs.

• Implement a “Stop Work for Safety” program including awards and recognition.

• Continue its “Near-Miss Reporting Program” and daily discussions of issues at production meetings.

• Implement a learning management system for all employees and schedule mandatory monthly computer-based safety training.

• Conduct on-board safety training for all new employees.

• Develop a corporate wide safety and health management system that includes input from management and workers and the creation of a safety committee.

“Zwanenberg Food Group has taken important steps to improve plant safety but the work of training new and existing employees on machine safety procedures to prevent injuries never ends,” said OSHA Area Director Ken Montgomery in Cincinnati. “Employers are responsible for recognizing and responding to hazards immediately and protecting workers to ensure they end their shifts safely.”

Based in Cincinnati, Zwanenberg Food Group USA Inc. is a subsidiary of Holland’s Zwanenberg Food Group. Founded in 1875, the privately held company has 12 production facilities in the U.S., Netherlands and United Kingdom. Zwanenberg’s product line includes cooked ham, chili, luncheon meat, soups, stew, corned beef hash and pastas marketed under the Vietti, Southgate, Halal and other private label brands. The company employs about 175 workers at the Cincinnati facility.

Publisher's note: A free press is critical to having well-informed voters and citizens. While some news organizations opt for paid websites or costly paywalls, The Highland County Press has maintained a free newspaper and website for the last 25 years for our community. If you would like to contribute to this service, it would be greatly appreciated. Donations may be made to: The Highland County Press, P.O. Box 849, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133. Please include "for website" on the memo line.