This past October, Mandie Rachael Creel Chitwood died after being thrown against an 8-inch pipe when a forklift hit the ladder she had climbed on to unclog the conveyor.
The investigation by Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration found Wrigley at fault for failing to set up any safety procedures to alert forklift drivers when someone is in the traffic lane, even though it was fairly common for workers to do what Chitwood did.
The company was fined just $8,575 — an amount based upon a formula set by the state that weighs the risk of injury, the number of workers exposed to risk, the site's previous safety record, and other factors when levying penalties.
It is tragic that a woman was killed on the job because of the lack of an alert. The only positive outcome is that Wrigley has now improved the safety of its plant. The procedure in place now calls for an employee climbing a ladder to unclog the conveyor to first set up a temporary gate at either end of the aisle, then sound an air horn while working in that aisle. We hope that other factories put similar safeguards in place before any fatal accidents occur.