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Simón Santana Farías

Victim of a work accident at Bimbo




Bread manufacturer Bimbo offers 330 dollars as compensation for worker’s death


The bread manufacturer Panificadora Bimbo del Uruguay SA offered to pay 8,224.50 Uruguayan pesos (approximately 330 US dollars) to the family of Simón Santana Farías, a young worker who died while cleaning a cooling machine in the company’s industrial Camino Edison plant, to cover damages and payments due to Santana before his death.


The prospects were not good. The conciliation hearing held on October 23 in a civil court had been a preview of what the outcome would be. As soon as mediator Virginia Fernández began the hearing, the company presented its offer. But the sum was so low, it did not even merit a response.


The offer made by Panificadora Bimbo del Uruguay SA amounted to a mere 8,224.50 pesos, and with that sum the company intended to compensate Simón’s tragic death and cover all unpaid wages and other labor benefits due, as well as the damages and loss of income claimed by his family.


The company “disputed all the information presented in the claim, including the date on which the worker was hired and the category he occupied,” Luis Rodríguez Turrina, the lawyer that represents the family, said to the local newspaper LA REPUBLICA. “We won’t accept the sum offered.” Therefore “the conciliation mechanisms available through the Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MTSS) have been exhausted, and we will now bring an action in a labor court,” the lawyer said.


Simón’s family was present when the company’s representatives made their offer. But they were prepared for it. At the conciliation hearing held in the Second Term Conciliation Court in Civil Matters, the company “challenged the entire proceeding and refused to accept our claim or the damages requested,” Rodríguez Turrina said.


An avoidable death


Simón Santana was performing cleaning tasks in the Maintenance Department of Panificadora Bimbo del Uruguay SA, a Mexico-based transnational corporation that operates in 18 countries throughout the world, including the Americas, Europe and Asia, with more than 70 plants, 900 distribution centers, and over 80 thousand workers.


Simón joined the Bimbo workforce in January 2008, with great expectations for his future in the company. Less than a year later, on September 3, he went to work like on any other day. But three hours later he suffered a serious work accident that cost him his life. He was only 26 years old.


When he suffered the deadly injury, the young worker was cleaning one of the cooling machines at the plant. Cleaning tasks were performed with the machines running, and Simón was caught on the gears and dragged into the machine. He was alone. The investigation revealed that he was trapped in the machine for 15 minutes before anyone came to his aid.


According to the investigation conducted by the MTSS General Inspection Office, Simón “was probably trying to go from one side of the platform to the other when the safety belt he was wearing got caught on the cooling machine’s transmission system, snagged by the moving discs that had no protective guards.”


The MTSS report also indicates that the fatal accident occurred due to technical and human error. There was a “mechanical risk” because the system had no safety shields, “thus exposing the workers to the risk of being dragged, crushed and trapped,” but also “the company failed to identify the mechanical risk (posed by the transmission system and unguarded moving parts).”


“The investigation reveals that the accident was the result of the multiple causes identified above and the company’s failure to comply with applicable safety and health regulations in force. If the transmission system of the cooling machine had been properly protected, this accident would not have occurred,” the MTSS report concludes.


Simón’s case will now be investigated in civil and labor courts, as well as in a criminal court, as the Eighth Term Criminal Court Judge Graciela Eustachio is hearing the case. Judge Eustachio is awaiting the response to a number of court orders issued as part of the inquiry into the death of this young worker and the causes and responsible parties.


Republished from La República, Uruguay

December 11, 2008




Photos: Patricia Iglesias


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