Clayton Plant Fined For Violations Following Employee Death

April 16, 2022 Photo by John Payne

CLAYTON – The NC Department of Labor has fined a Clayton facility following an investigation into an employee’s death earlier this year. Northeast Foods Inc., doing business as Automatic Rolls of North Carolina, at 68 Harvest Mill Lane, has been fined by the NC Department of Labor as a result of the department’s occupational safety and health inspection that began on April 16, 2022. Northeast Foods Inc. was fined for three alleged serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina, with a total penalty of $40,605.60.

On April 16, Bibiana Arielano Delabra, age 22, of Middlesex, a sanitation worker, was caught between a large industrial mixing bowl and a steel support beam. Clayton Police, at the time, said the mixing bowl was about the size of a car. Delabra was crushed and died from her injuries.

The Department of Labor alleges Northeast Foods did not develop energy control procedures for employees cleaning the commercial mixer, the company did not conduct periodic inspections of the energy control procedure at least annually to ensure the procedure and requirements were followed, and the employer did not provide training to ensure the purpose and function were understood by employees to safely use the mixer.

Civil penalties for violations are included in the Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina in the General Statutes. The maximum penalty for each serious violation is $14,502. The General Statutes say that the Labor Department has to take into consideration various factors such as the gravity of the violation, the size of the business, the good faith and cooperation of the employer, and the history of previous violations.

The penalties are in no way designed to make up for loss of life. By law, the civil money penalties collected by the N.C. Department of Labor are not the receipts of the department, but rather must be remitted to the Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund, which then distributes the monies to the public school system.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to request an informal conference with the Labor Department, to file a notice of contest with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission of North Carolina (an independent board appointed by the governor to hear appeals of OSH citations), or to pay the penalty.

According to their website, Northeast Foods is one of the largest suppliers of buns, rolls, and bread products in the United States.

On December 8th, the NC Department of Labor fined a Selma business, Azteca Market, for the May 3, 2022 workplace death of a 44 year-old employee who died from injuries after her arm became trapped inside a commercial dough mixer.