A food manufacturer in Massachusetts has agreed to pay $540,000 in OSHA fines in connection with a fatality. An employee was crushed to death in a machine used to make hummus.
OSHA originally fined Tribe Mediterranean Foods, a subsidiary of Nestle SA, $702,300 for 18 citations in connection with the death of Daniel Collazo, 28, at its Taunton, MA, plant.
Tribe initially contested 17 of the violations, but the company eventually accepted all 18 of them. In the final settlement, the fines were reduced by 23%. The citations included:
- seven egregious willful citations for lack of training on lockout/tagout, one for each untrained worker exposed to the hazard
- two more willful violations for failing to adequately train maintenance workers to recognize hazardous energy sources and failing to develop and use lockout/tagout procedures
- three repeat violations for failing to conduct periodic inspections of the energy control procedures, and
- six serious violations for electrical, fall, pallet jack and machine guarding violations.
Due to the willful and repeat violations and the fatality, OSHA placed Tribe in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program which mandates follow-up inspections to ensure compliance.
On Dec. 16, 2011, Collazo was cleaning a machine when he became caught in it and was crushed to death between two rotating augers.
His brother, Gabriel Collazo, had also been working at the Tribe plant but left his job three months before Daniel was killed.
In a newspaper interview, Gabriel said he suspects his brother fell into the machine, slipping on some hummus and water on the floor.
It was first reported that Daniel Collazo’s arm got caught in the machine. But his brother said it was an even more gruesome death: Daniel’s head was pulled into the grinder.
Gabriel says after his brother’s death, Tribe made changes to the machine, including a new emergency shut-off mechanism.
Tribe released a statement that the company “deeply regrets the accident … The safety of our employees continues to be of the utmost importance.”
Daniel Collazo leaves behind a five-year-old daughter.