Houston tortilla factory faces $106K in federal penalties for exposing employees to amputation, machine, fall and extreme heat hazards

August 1, 2016

Employer name: La Espiga de Oro Inc.

Location: 1202 W 15th St., Houston, Texas 77008

Citations issued: Aug. 1, 2016

Investigation findings: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Houston initiated an investigation on June 20, 2016, at the Houston Heights location of La Espiga de Oro, after the agency received a complaint of unsafe working conditions at the tortilla maker. Its inspection resulted in 25 serious violations for exposing workers to struck-by and caught-in hazards and failing to protect workers from dangerous machinery. Inspectors also found workers exposed to extreme heat, electrical hazards including exposed energized electrical parts and fall hazards as they loaded dough into machines used to make tortillas.

Proposed Penalties: $106,700

Quote: “A worker exposed to machines without proper guards can lose a finger, a limb or their life,” said Steve DeVine, OSHA’s assistant area director in the Houston North office. “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.”

Link to the citations: http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/LaEspigadeOroInc_1156414.pdf and http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/LaEspigadeOroInc_1156638.pdf

Information: La Espiga de Oro has operated since 1977 at its Houston Heights location, and supplies restaurants in Texas, Louisiana and Colorado. It has approximately 65 employees. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions; obtain compliance assistance; file a complaint or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Houston North office at 936-760-3800. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.