Running a small or midsize business comes with a range of responsibilities, including ensuring compliance with employment laws and maintaining a safe work environment.

Failure to adhere to these regulations can result in severe penalties and harm to employees. A recent case involving Abbyland Foods, a food manufacturing company in Wisconsin, serves as a stark reminder of the consequences that can arise from disregarding safety standards.

In this article, we will delve into the details of the investigations, penalties, and lessons that small and midsize business owners can learn from this incident.





The HR experts at Asure help business owners comply with federal, state, and local employment laws. Learn more about how Asure can protect your business here.

Abbyland Foods’ Safety Failures

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigated Abbyland Foods following two serious workplace accidents.

The first incident occurred in December 2022 when a 37-year-old worker’s finger was amputated by a turning auger on a meat processing machine. A month later, another worker, aged 23, suffered a hand injury when a sliding guard on a trash compactor crushed their hand.

Investigation Findings and Penalties

OSHA’s inspection revealed numerous safety violations at Abbyland Foods. The company was cited for a repeat violation and 17 serious violations, primarily related to the failure to follow lockout/tagout procedures and provide adequate machine guarding.

These violations exposed employees to significant risks during machine operation. As a result, OSHA proposed penalties totaling $277,472.

History of Violations

Abbyland Foods had previously been cited by OSHA for 22 serious violations, resulting in over $56,000 in proposed penalties since 2013. The recent inspections highlighted recurring hazards that had not been adequately addressed by the company, indicating a persistent disregard for employee safety.

Importance of Compliance

The penalties imposed on Abbyland Foods illustrate the importance of adhering to employment laws and safety regulations. As an employer, it is crucial to recognize the legal responsibility to provide a safe and healthful work environment for employees.

Neglecting safety measures not only jeopardizes employee well-being but also exposes businesses to financial penalties and reputational damage.

Learning from Abbyland Foods’ Case

Small and midsize business owners can draw valuable lessons from Abbyland Foods’ violations. Here are a few key takeaways:

Prioritize Safety

Make employee safety a top priority within your organization. Implement comprehensive safety protocols, including lockout/tagout procedures and adequate machine guarding, to mitigate potential hazards.

Learn from OSHA Resources

Familiarize yourself with OSHA guidelines and regulations applicable to your industry. OSHA provides valuable resources and training materials to help businesses maintain compliance.

Regular Training and Communication

Conduct regular safety training sessions for employees to ensure they are aware of potential risks and understand proper safety procedures. Encourage open communication channels where employees can report safety concerns without fear of retaliation.

Address Repeat Violations

If your business has received prior citations or penalties, take them as opportunities to assess and rectify any recurring issues. Continuously monitor and improve safety measures to prevent future violations.


The case of Abbyland Foods serves as a reminder that small and midsize business owners must prioritize compliance with employment laws and safety regulations. Neglecting these responsibilities can result in serious consequences, including severe penalties and harm to employees.

By investing in safety measures, staying informed about relevant regulations, and fostering a culture of safety within their organizations, business owners can protect their employees and create a productive and law-abiding work environment.

To learn more about OSHA, lockout/tagout procedures, and the Local Emphasis Program for the Food Manufacturing Industry, visit the OSHA website or consult relevant resources in your area.

Connect with an HR expert at Asure and find out how we help you stay compliant with all federal, state, and local employment laws.

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