LaSalle dairy cited in manure pit death

LASALLE — The federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration has cited a LaSalle dairy over safety violations that resulted in the death of an equipment operator.

The citation, issued Sept. 24, stemmed from the death of a 44-year-old worker, Juan Panzo Temoxtle, who was using a Mensch vacuum truck to handle manure. The truck slipped into a 12-foot manure pit and the driver was trapped in the cab of the truck under the liquid manure.

OSHA said in the citation that Shelton Land and Cattle LTD, which does business as Shelton Dairy Corp., failed to install adequate guarding or curbing to prevent vehicles from falling into the pit. It also cited the dairy for safety violations in training for use of the equipment, along with failure to notify employees about hazardous chemicals used on the farm.

OSHA assessed a $24,575 fine for the workplace violations. The dairy had 15 days from the date of the citation to contest it, according to the letter from OSHA area director Amanda Kupper in Denver.

While a decision on whether to contest was not apparent Wednesday, the dairy did issue a statement earlier indicating its willingness to work with the investigating government agencies.

“We cannot adequately express the deep sadness we feel over the accident that involved one of our employees. Our sympathy is with their family as we all mourn this loss. Safety protocols and physical barriers were in place at the time of the tragedy, and our team is working with the Weld County Sheriff Office and OSHA in full cooperation with their efforts as the investigation of this truly unfortunate incident continues.”

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