OSHA is looking into the case of a worker in Brooklyn, NY, who was crushed to death inside a mixer. Meanwhile, the state has shut down the business.
Juan Baten, 22, a Guatemalan immigrant, had stuck his hand into the tortilla-mixing machine at Tortilleria Chinantla. He was sucked into the machine, and its mechanical arms broke his neck almost instantly.
Police say surveillance video at the factory shows Baten frequently putting his hand into the waist-high mixer to push the dough down.
Baten’s co-workers say there was no reason for him to have stuck his arm so far into the mixer. They speculate that he dropped headphones into the mixer and reached in to retrieve them. Once the blades dragged him into the machine, he had no time to scream for help.
Lesson for employees: If something drops into a machine by mistake, lock-out the machine before trying to retrieve what fell in.
State shuts down business
The fatality at the tortilla factory caught the attention of New York’s state Workers’ Compensation Board.
Inspectors from the board went to the factory and issued a stop-work order because it had been without workers’ compensation insurance since March 28, 2010.
The business must obtain a workers’ comp policy and pay the state $56,000 in penalties before it can reopen.
The company had let its workers’ comp policy run out once before, in 2008. It paid a $2,500 to settle the problem.