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Tribe Mediterranean Foods fatal accident leads to OSHA citations

Tribe Mediterranean Foods, manufacturer of Tribe brand hummus products, is under investigation after the death of one of its workers at its Taunton production plant. The wrongful death investigation began after one of Tribe's contract workers was killed while cleaning and sanitizing one of the machines used for hummus production. The employee was sucked into the machine and was crushed between two rotating augers.

Tribe had not trained several workers responsible for cleaning plant equipment on hazardous energy or lockout/tagout procedures, according to investigation results. These procedures ensure that machines are turned off, and do not accidentally turn on, while employees are performing maintenance or cleaning them. It's possible that with the appropriate training, this fatal accident could have been avoided.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Tribe for 18 violations of workplace safety standards. Seven willful violation citations have been issued for failing to train workers. Willful violations are cited when committed with "intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health."

In potential wrongful death cases such as this one, the death of a person must be caused by negligence or with the intent to cause harm. In most situations, surviving family members must be suffering monetary hardship as a result of the death. When determining monetary loss, the court will look at a variety of factors such as age, earning capacity and life expectancy of the decedent, as well as the dependency and life circumstances of the distributees. Texas families who have lost a loved one to a serious accident should know that they have legal options.

Source: United States Department of Labor, "U.S. Labor Department's OSHA cites Tribe Mediterranean Foods for safety violations following death of a worker in Taunton, Mass.," Ted Fitzgerald, June 18, 2012

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Brian Jensen

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