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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Severed hand will result in inquiry

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Staff Writer

The Kalihi candy company where a toddler lost her hand in a machinery accident on Saturday was cited for two safety violations in 2004, a state official said yesterday.

Saturday's accident will trigger an additional inspection, said James Hardway, special assistant to the director of the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

Menehune Mac Chocolate Center and Gift Factory, also known as Hawaii Candies and Nuts Ltd., rectified the violation and didn't receive any citations in 2005, Hardway said.

State officials will schedule another inspection within a week, Hardway said.

"If there was a hazard for this girl, it could be hazardous to employees," he said. "We do have to ensure whatever hazard the little girl had faced isn't there for the employees."

The 2004 violations were for machine guards, plates or covering that protect workers from moving parts, he said, adding that fines for this violation could go as high as $70,000. The problem was resolved. Hardway said he wasn't sure how much the company was fined.

The company did not return calls seeking comment.

At about 11 a.m. Saturday, an 18-month-old girl's hand was caught in conveyor-belt machinery and severed during a fundraiser for the Hawai'i Children's Cancer Foundation in which children make candy for their mothers, grandmothers and others.

The company hosts the fundraiser, in which children must be 7 years old to participate, according to the company's Web site. Several groups already had gone through the program, which the company has held annually for five years.

Diane Ono, president of the Hawai'i Children's Cancer Foundation, said the accident was especially tragic because the company was conducting a community service and the children were enjoying themselves. Ono said she feels terrible for the child and her family.

"The owners of Menehune Mac are wonderful people, and they were trying to do a good thing, not only for the cancer foundation, but also to help children celebrate Mother's Day with their families," Ono said. "It was really a fun event, and we're very, very sad and devastated ourselves."

Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com.

Correction: A hand of an 18-month-old girl was severed Saturday while she was on tour of the Menehune Mac Chocolate Center and Gift Factory. A previous version of this story gave the wrong day. Diane Ono’s name was misspelled.