Fines proposed total $126,700 from the US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The worker had two fingers amputated by an unguarded cheese packing and labeling machine at the factory in Wisconsin.
A January inspection from OSHA was prompted by a referral, which found that another worker suffered a similar amputation in January 2012.
Severe violator program
Because of the hazards and the willful violations cited, Gilman Cheese Corp. has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
OSHA said this mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law and they can inspect any of the employer's facilities or job sites.
Gilman Cheese Corporation (GCC) is a cheese processing company which specializes in flavored processed cheese in flavours such as American, Jalapeno, Salami, Onion, Bacon and Horseradish.
GCC has a large smoked cheese operation which produces both processed and natural smoked cheese in ten smokehouses, primarily serving the Deli and Dairy industry.
Two willful violations involve failing to develop and train workers on machine-specific lockout procedures to prevent unexpected start-up and lockout machinery during servicing and maintenance, and to provide adequate machine guarding.
Six serious violations involve inadequate guarding on a bench grinder and a portable grinder; operating powered industrial vehicles without adequate training and inspections; lack of an electrical safety program; and failing to provide training on bloodborne pathogens to those who cleaned equipment following the amputation
Two other-than-serious violations include obstructing a means of egress and using compressed air greater than 30 pounds per square inch for cleaning.
The company was also sent a warning letter by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in September 2011.
In the letter the FDA said an inspection determined that the firm had significant deviations from some of the Low-Acid Canned Foods (LACF) regulations.
"This tragedy could have been prevented if Gilman Cheese Corp. ensured adequate machine guarding and lockout/tagout procedures.
"Too often, compromised safety procedures have tragic consequences,” said Mark Hysell, OSHA's area director in Eau Claire.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference, or contest the citations and penalties before an independent panel.