South Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys understand all too well that serious injuries or death can occur while on the job, even if the job is making tortillas. Such is the case for a Gautemalan man who was killed while working at Tortilleria Chinantla, a tortilla factory in Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York. The workplace fatality occured when the 22-year-old immigrant fell into an industrial dough mixer during the night shift.
Emergency personnel responded to the scene after a call reporting a worker had suffered cardiac arrest, however, on arrival they found that a man, who had been a factory employee for six years, had fallen into the industrial mixer. Authorities said the man was pronounced dead at the scene.
Tortilleria Chinantla has since closed due to the accident. Also, because of the death and subsequent inspection the fact that tortilla maker has been without workers’ compensation insurance for nearly a year has been brought to light. According to the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, the insurance for the company ran out last March and the business has since accrued $56,000 in penalties for noncompliance.
The board issued a stop work order to the factory, forbidding the torilla producer from operating until it pays its fines and gets workers’ compensation insurance. It is not typical for the state board to close down companies for compliance violations, but the workplace fatality gave reason for board inspectors to take a closer look at Tortilleria Chinantla.
Officials for the state board will close a business for the following issues; if an employee of the business files a workers’ compensation claim while the company is out of compliance, if federal workplace inspectors detect violations, if an extremely high amount of noncompliance penalties accumulate, or if there is a workplace death.
While the owner of the tortilla business says that the death was the first of its kind, and that there have been no on the job injuries at the factory, a Long Island advocacy group by the name of Brandworkers, claims the worker’s death was a consequence of corners being cut on worker safety. The founding director of Brandworkers went so far as to liken the Tortilleria Chinantla work environment to those of a sweatshop.