Manufacturing News and Trends

Did language barrier lead to worker’s death?

A young worker at a tortilla manufacturing facility in Brooklyn, NY, was killed on the job. In the resulting inspection, OSHA found machine guarding issues and suggested the worker may not have understood safety training that was only provided in English.

A 22-year-old Guatemalan immigrant was killed when he got caught in the unguarded auger of a mixing machine at the Tortilleria Chinantla, Inc., facility.

In the resulting inspection, OSHA cops said that placing guards on the machine could have prevented the worker’s death. Inspectors issued eight citations — one willful, six serious and one other-than-serious — totaling $62,400. In addition to the machine guarding issues, OSHA said the company lacked a lockout/tagout program and a chemical hazard communication program. The manufacturer also failed to train industrial truck operators and didn’t report the worker’s fatality on its injury and illness logs.

Officials also suggested that the worker didn’t understand safety training he received in English. Employers must ensure that workers understand the training they receive, OSHA said, and referred employers to the agency’s Spanish training resources.

The fatality led to other inspections of Brooklyn tortilla manufacturers. While no fatalities occurred at those facilities, OSHA said it discovered similar hazards.

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  • Common Sense

    “Officials also suggested that the worker didn’t understand safety training he received in English.” When did OSHA get the power to speak with the deceased? This company had a number of serious safety issues and to try and lump the possibility that the employee didn’t understand the training, undermines the intent of the investigation. If you have serious findings that resulted in the death of an employee, speculating on other contributing aspects is great but keep them to yourself unless you can substantiate them. Instead of Spanish training resources, the federal government should be utilizing our monies to develop English training Recources!!!!!!! It would save the United States of America a great deal more money than trying to translate safety to meet indivdual requirements. Teach non english speaking members of the work force how to read and speak ENGLISH. That is what we speak here in the USA and if you want to work here get with the program for your safety sake.

  • Robert Mendoza

    I agree with Common Sense. I worked in the Corporate world and our literature was in so many different languages it was a joke. I often thought to myself, this is America, learn the language! Back when my grandparents came here everything was in English. the Irish, Italians, French, Dutch, Germans, et cetera had to learn English. Progress is wonderful, but we have become too touchy feely and have catered too much to special interest groups that feel that their rights have been violated. There are numerous high schools throughout the land that have night classes for anyone wanting to learn English. Our Department of Motor Vehicles has the test and information in many languages. when your out there driving around, the signs are in English. If you can’t read and pass the test in English, you should not be driving. We have to stop the nonsense.