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Employer cited for tortilla-making safety hazards


A Texas tortilla maker has been cited and is facing $106,700 in proposed penalties from federal health and safety regulators for exposing workers to struck-by, extreme heat, fall and other hazards.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Houston-based La Espiga De Oro after a June inspection resulted in 25 serious violations for exposing workers to struck-by and caught-in hazards and failing to protect workers from dangerous machinery, the agency said Monday in a statement.

Inspectors also found workers exposed to electrical hazards, including exposed energized electrical parts, and fall hazards as employees loaded dough into machines used to make tortillas, according to the agency.

OSHA also determined the employer did not furnish employment and a place of employment free from recognized hazards causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees because the employees producing and packaging tortillas under elevated heat conditions were exposed to excessive heat, according to the citations.

“A worker exposed to machines without proper guards can lose a finger, a limb or their life,” Steve DeVine, OSHA's assistant area director in the Houston North office, said in a statement. “Employers like La Espiga De Oro are responsible for recognizing and fixing hazards in the workplace. With more than two dozen serious violations, it's clear this company needs to take its employees' safety far more seriously.”

A company spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.

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