Kalihi candy plant had 5 recent safety violations
A Kalihi candy-making factory where an 18-month-old girl's left hand was severed over the weekend had been cited for five workplace violations in 2004 and 2005 by the U.S. Department of Labor.
In a random safety inspection in February 2004, Menehune Mac Chocolate Center & Gift Factory, also known as Hawaiian Candies & Nuts Ltd., was cited for three violations: general requirements for all machines; mechanical power-transmission apparatus; and wiring methods, components and equipment for general use, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Administration Web site. The company was fined $2,100 for the violations and the problems were fixed within three months, according to the Labor Department.
In a random health inspection in April 2005, the department cited the company for two violations: guarding floor and wall openings and holes; and oxygen-fuel gas welding and cutting. The company was fined $750 for the violations and the problems were fixed within two months. According to the Web site, the overall fine was reduced to $450 from $750 after an informal settlement agreement was reached.
All five violations were described as serious, according to the Web site.
A follow-up health inspection of the company's factory was done in August 2005 and no violations were found, said James Hardway, special assistant to the director of the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.
About 11:13 a.m. Saturday, the toddler's hand got caught in a conveyer belt at the factory.
A Honolulu Fire Department spokesman had said the toddler's hand was severed just above the wrist. Fire crews bandaged her and placed the hand in a bag of ice to preserve it for potential reattachment.
An update on the toddler's condition could not be released because she is a minor, according to a spokeswoman for the Queen's Medical Center.
The state Labor Department is investigating the accident.
"We don't know the circumstances of how the girl got injured," Hardway said yesterday.
"We would just want to remind people that when you look at these citations, you might be comparing apples and oranges. "There might not be anything (wrong) at the plant," Hardway said. "We don't want to imply that there is an existing hazard at the plant until the investigation is completed."
The toddler was part of a tour of the factory during a Mother's Day Candy Making event where people are allowed to make their own chocolate-covered macadamia nut candies and decorated boxes. Monetary donations from participants benefited the Hawaii Children's Cancer Foundation.
The toddler was with another person while her mother was with her three other children when the accident occurred.
According to the company's Web site, children are required to be at least 7 years old to participate in the candy-making event, due to insurance restrictions. It is not known whether the toddler participated in the candy-making event or whether there is an age requirement to take the factory tours.
Company officials could not be reached for comment. This was the fifth year that Menehune Mac held the charitable event.