A San Marcos tortilla factory faces over $218,000 in fines due to workplace hazards that federal inspectors say could cause amputations and other severe injuries. Employees have suffered three severe injuries at the facility since 2016.
Federal officials previously cited the company for safety violations in 2015 and 2018.
What the company did wrong
The company did not follow hazardous energy control procedures to prevent sudden machine start-up or movement during maintenance and servicing. Officials cited the facility three times for energy control violations and four times for improper lockout procedures. Additionally, they cited the factory for not fit-testing workers using respirators.
Federal safety standards
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires all employers to furnish a safe workplace without any recognized hazards that have or could cause serious injury or death. Employers who repeatedly or willfully violate this requirement may face fines up to $70,000 for each violation. Employers who fail to correct safety violations within the specified time frame may receive additional penalties. Employers whose willful violations of the rules cause the death of an employee may face prison time, in addition to fines.
Employee compensation for OSHA violations
Though employees can report workplace violations to OSHA and OSHA may pursue a lawsuit against the employer, employees can not directly sue for violations. However, employees who suffer injuries due to unsafe conditions may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation or other damages. Employees may report an OSHA violation online through the OHSA.gov website, by fax, mail or email, or by calling or visiting their local OSHA office.