Back in 2011, a tragedy happened at a Tribe hummus factory near Boston. A man who was part of the factory’s evening cleaning crew was working on a bean-mashing machine with nine-inch rotating screws when the machine’s screws started to turn, mashing the 28-year-old’s head and arms. He died of his injuries in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.
The worker’s brother had helped him find work at the Tribe factory near Boston. “They waited for something bad to happen,” he told ProPublica. “They just use people like us—take advantage of us.” Workers were just sent out to do industrial jobs without much training, including training on “lock out/tag out,” procedures for making sure that the power to equipment has been cut before working on it…in order to prevent accidents just like this one.
The company had to pay a $540,000 fine to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, but why Tribe had paid a $9,500 fine to OSHA a two years before this accident, but claimed that it hadn’t had time to train workers on these procedures in the two intervening years. Never mind that Tribe’s own consultants had warned them before the accident that failing to train workers was (we paraphrase) asking for trouble. “[T]he probability that a fatality could occur is likely certain within a year’s timeframe,” said a report that’s now part of the public record.
Why aren’t we hearing about this until now? It’s not because nobody cares about the workers who make safe, delicious hummus possible. It’s because the OSHA records about this accident, and other terrifying accidents, have only become public recently, brought to our attention by the investigative reporters of ProPublica.