Chicago, Il., March 18th, 2003 A temporary worker who was seriously injured on the job at Azteca Foods nearly a month ago, faces a long and painful recovery from the accident and the possibility that he may never fully recover from his injuries.
Rodrigo Mina was in the plant as a temporary employee, replacing striking Azteca workers when the accident occurred on February 20th, 2003. The accident is under investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which has previously cited Azteca for violations of federal health and safety laws.
In Februarys accident, Mina slipped as he was clearing tortillas away from a location where two conveyor belts come together. As he fell, his hand was caught between the two belts, in a space about two inches wide. The belts pulled his hand and then his arm into the machinery. According to Mina, he was trapped for nearly ten minutes before the belts were shut off. His arm was badly crushed.
Mina was hospitalized for more than two weeks, undergoing two surgeries to reconstruct his arm. Surgeons used bone, vein and skin grafts from Minas foot and leg in an effort to repair the damage. His doctors have told him that it may a year of intensive therapy before he regains limited used of his arm.
Striking Azteca workers and UE staff have visited Mina to offer their support and to make sure that he is aware of his rights. The strikers were particularly disturbed by this accident since they all knew how to shut off the belts in question.
The strikers say that safety has been a serious issue at Azteca and that they had previously complained to management about the need for safety guard around the belts involved in this accident. They say there were worried about the possibility that exactly this type of accident would occur.
Mina is now home but unable to walk. Work is out of the question. If you would like to send a donation to him, you can mail it to:
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