A worker who underwent an amputation of two fingers after her hand became mutilated in a food manufacturing machine is suing her employer, a Houston, Texas-based company that manufactures and distributes prepared Indian foods.
The plaintiff, Edith Alcantara-Tobar, filed the personal injury lawsuit in a Harris County district court Feb. 14 against Satyam Foods and Snacks, Inc, a wholesale manufacturer and distributor of pani puri and chaat puri.
According to the SE Texas Record, Ms. Alcantara-Tobar alleges her supervisor at Satyam Foods told her to clean a pani puri manufacturing machine. While she was cleaning the semi-automatic machine, a band on it snagged her left hand and maimed it.
As a result of her workplace injury, the plaintiff says she had to undergo an amputation of the middle and ring fingers on her left hand. Her lawsuit alleges that the company “had a duty to inspect the semi-automatic panipuri machine, but utterly failed to protect the plaintiff by failing to discover the defect of the machine,” the SE Record reports.
Although it’s not clear from the report how the accident happened, workplace injuries resulting in amputations are commonly caused by machines accidentally powering on during cleaning, servicing, or maintaining. Improperly guarded or unguarded machines are also frequently cited as the cause of workplace accidents resulting in amputation.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than seven accidental amputations occur on the job every day in the U.S. However, the actual figure is undoubtedly much higher because it doesn’t take into account workplace accidents that occur in states with their own reporting requirements and response plans.
More than 90 percent of accidental workplace amputations involve fingers, OSHA says. U.S. workers also lose hands, toes, feet, and other body parts with alarming frequency.
Amputations are also incredibly expensive, not just for the victim but for insurance companies, businesses, taxpayers, and society in general. According to the Access Prosthetics Blog, lifetime health care expenses for amputees is $509,275 compared to $361,200 for non-amputees. The estimated cost to private and public insurance agencies is $12 billion per year, not to mention billions more in lost work and decreased productivity.