The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Double Dutch Dairy in Polk County for four serious safety violations in connection with the death of an employee who was struck June 17 by a front-end loader hauling hay.
An inspection found that the driver’s view was obstructed.
The incident occurred at the company’s dairy farm at 12723 V Road near Shelby. Neither the driver nor the victim was identified by OSHA, but Polk County Attorney Ronald Colling identified the victim as Robinson Lopez, 24, of Columbus, who died the day of the accident at Annie Jeffrey Health Center in Osceola. The Columbus Telegram's death notice at the time said Lopez was to be buried in Guatemala.
Double Dutch Dairy, based in Wisconsin, has two sites in Nebraska, near Shelby and Rising City, OSHA said.
“This was a horrible and senseless tragedy. No worker should ever lose their life because they did not receive adequate training or protection,” said Bonita Winingham, OSHA’s area director in Omaha, in a news release.
OSHA’s investigation found employees were exposed to hazards, and they were neither trained in safe equipment operation nor required to use seat belt restraints.
OSHA has proposed fines of $22,500 for the four serious violations. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known existed.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.
The owner, Todd Tuls, could not be reached for comment.
In the news release announcing the proposed fine, Winingham called particular attention to the fact that the victim was Latino.
“Latino workers take some of the most difficult and dangerous jobs in America and are injured on the job at higher rates than other workers," she said. "Last year, on average, two Latino workers were fatally injured each day. This worker should not have been part of that statistic.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 797 Hispanic workers suffered fatal work-related injuries in 2013. This year in Nebraska, three Latino workers have lost their lives, OSHA said.