Update: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) investigation into Juan Panzo Temoxtle’s death found that Shelton Land and Cattle, a dairy farm in LaSalle, “failed to protect its workers from drowning and chemical hazards.”
Temoxtle drowned in a manure pit on March 30 of this year while training for his new job at the dairy. In its findings, OSHA said the dairy “did not ensure that the pit had adequate guarding or curbing to prevent the truck from falling into the manure pit while moving it into position on the push-off platform.”
“Manure pits are known hazards in dairy farming operations,” said OSHA Denver Area Director Amanda Kupper in a news release. “If required guarding had been installed, this worker’s life could have been spared.”
The OSHA investigation determined that Shelton Land and Cattle “failed to implement measures to protect employees from drowning or crushing hazards, did not have a hazard communication program, and failed to train workers on hazardous chemicals in the workplace.”
"We took into consideration the fact that there were struggles opening the [truck's] door," Kupper told Rocky Mountain PBS in an interview. "However, if the pit would've been adequately guarded, the individual would not have been able to drive into the pit. So being able to open the door would’ve been an irrelevant point.”
The company faces up to $24,575 in fines, according to OSHA. The dairy has 15 business days from the time they received the citations, which you can read here, to comply, contest the findings or request a conference with OSHA officials. Rocky Mountain PBS reached out to Shelton Land and Cattle for comment but has not heard back.
"Tengo mas tranquilidad por que sabemos que fue un error de parte de la empresa y el que lo estaba entrenando," Temoxtle's nephew Martin Quihua Panzo told Rocky Mountain PBS after the OSHA findings were published. In English: "I’m more at peace knowing it was an error on behalf of the company and the person who was training him."
Temoxtle's brother, Alfedo Panzo Temoxtle, said it felt bad knowing there was someone to blame. "If someone is guilty, there needs to be justice," he said in Spanish.
Attorney Britton J. Morrell, who represents the family, said, "We are still waiting for the final report to see if there was any design or manufacturing defect or flaw. If so the family will consider their legal options. Since the injury is covered under workers compensation there is no other further remedy to be pursued against the employer."
You can read our original story on Temoxtle’s death below.
LASALLE, Colo. — Juan Panzo Temoxtle’s family says he went to work every day with a goal in mind: to build his family a new home.
A father of three young children, Temoxtle left his family behind in Mexico and headed to the United States to work. He had nearly saved up enough money to return home, his family says, when he met an unexpected and unthinkable end: he drowned in a manure pit while training on a new job at a LaSalle dairy.
Temoxtle’s death in March became a rallying cry for advocates who lobbied successfully for a farmworkers’ bill of rights in Colorado.
But investigators are still working to find out what caused the accident that claimed the life of Juan Panzo Temoxtle.
It is the kind of accident federal occupational safety investigators have encountered several times before on dairies across the country.