Mexican Food Manufacturer Faces Steep Fine After Amputation

One employee used a piece of duct tape to lock out a machine.

On August 28, 2018, an employee was working at Bruce Foods in El Paso, TX when his hand got too close to a belt and a part of his finger was amputated.

The incident triggered an OSHA investigation and on February 27, 2019, OSHA announced that it had cited the company for 24 serious safety violations. The Mexican food manufacturer faces $194,350 in fines.

The violations include everything from inadequate machine guarding and lack of fall protection to exposing employees to live electrical parts and failing to train employees in lockout/tagout procedures.

The lockout/tagout training seems particularly egregious as, during the course of the investigation, an employee put him/herself at risk while working on a Jalapeno Line Machine.

According to the citation, the maintenance employee "locked out the machine by placing a piece of duct tape over the lid of the 220V electrical control panel stating 'Danger, don't turn on men working.'" The proposed penalty on that one alone was nearly $11,934.

According to the company’s website, Bruce Foods has been around since 1928 and specializes in manufacturing original Mexican and Cajun condiments and seasonings.

According to OSHA, Bruce has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings.