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Complaint prompts OSHA inspection to prevent workplace injury

Colorado workers in all industries have the right to safe workplace environments. If an employee of any company feels threatened by the circumstances in which he or she has to work, safety violations may be reported to federal authorities. With so many places to inspect, federal inspectors may not get to some facilities at which workplace injury hazards exist, and reporting it may save lives.

After receiving a complaint about unsafe workplace conditions, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched an investigation; the results were recently announced. The company -- a tortilla manufacturer -- was found to have exposed its employees to multiple safety hazards. Investigators determined that dangerous machines lacked safeguards and lockout/tagout devices to prevent amputation injuries. Workers were also exposed to dangerous electrical parts that were energized with no protection.

Other hazards that were identified included the extremely hot conditions under which employees had to perform their duties. An OSHA authority said that workers at this factory were in danger of losing fingers, limbs or even their lives. Furthermore, there was also a significant risk to workers suffering heat exhaustion or heat illness, which can be deadly. The agency proposed a penalty of $106,700.

Any Colorado worker who has suffered a workplace injury, regardless by whose fault, may pursue financial assistance to lessen the burden of medical bills and lost wages. Benefits claims may be filed with the workers' compensation insurance program of the state. In cases in which amputation injuries cause disabilities, the insurance system may award additional benefits along with vocational training to equip the victims with new skills.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Tortilla maker cited by OSHA for dangerous conditions", L.M. Sixel, Aug. 2, 2016

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