Imagine this: Nine workers at one company suffer various types of amputations, ranging from part of a finger to most of an arm, yet the company has avoided paying large fines in many of the cases.
That’s the result of an investigation by the Los Angeles Times into Bimbo Bakery locations throughout California between 2003 and this year.
And it appears recent large fines against the company may not have been enough to stop the amputations.
The company was already facing $230,000 in fines after inspections at four plants found equipment lacking proper guarding.
Then, in January, an employee at one of the plants that was inspected lost part of his finger. Investigators later found machines didn’t have proper guards.
Cal/OSHA has issued another $123,000 in fines after that incident.
Inspectors found supervisors may not have been encouraging workers to stop machinery to clear dough that becomes stuck. In many of the incidents, workers put their fingers in machines that were still running.
Bimbo officials have agreed to take steps to improve safety, but they are contesting the fines.
Bimbo Bakeries makes a number of well-known brands of breads, tortillas and pastries, including Tia Rosa and Entenmann’s.
Why hasn’t Bimbo paid large fines? Many were dismissed or significantly reduced on technicalities by Cal/OSHA’s appeals board.
Example: Employee Rosa Frias lost most of her arm in 2003 when it was sucked into a running bread machine. Cal/OSHA fined Bimbo $21,750.
But the case was dismissed after an administrative law judge on the appeals board said the agency could not prove its inspector had permission to enter the factory. The inspector had retired and wasn’t available to testify.
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