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Baking company fined after worker fatally caught in machinery

A Chicago-area baking company faces up to $42,000 in fines and several safety violations after a worker became caught in a machine and died at a Northwest Side facility in May.

Nathan Cottrell, 31, was hurt about 10:25 a.m. May 27 at Alpha Baking Co. Inc., at 4545 W. Lyndale St., officials said.

He was trying to check the oil level of a gearbox on a bakery loader after the equipment was serviced, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said in a statement.

The machine guards had not been reinstalled after the maintenance work, and when he was looking inside, a gear arm unexpectedly rotated and fatally struck him in the head, authorities said.

“It is unacceptable that Alpha Baking Co. would expose workers to unguarded machinery,” said Angeline Loftus, OSHA’s area director at its Des Plaines office. “This tragic loss of life could have been prevented by ensuring workers were not exposed to dangerous equipment without safety mechanisms.”

Cottrell, of the 1400 block of North Picadilly Circle in Mount Prospect, was pronounced dead at the scene, the Cook County medical examiner’s office said. An autopsy found he died of blunt head trauma and ruled his death an accident.

He was working as an engineer and had been with the company for six years, OSHA said.

Federal workplace safety authorities have issued the company six serious safety violations and a proposed fine of $42,000, the statement said.

Alpha Baking Co. employs 1,400 workers and makes hot dog buns, hamburger buns and other bread goods at two plants in Chicago and one in La Porte, Indiana, OSHA said.

The company currently sells its products under the S. Rosen’s, Mary Ann, Kreamo, Golden Hearth and Natural Ovens brand names, OSHA said.