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Despite broken bones and head trauma, no 9-1-1 call after worker injured in fall

While grocery shopping, OSHA inspector sees same fall hazards at another location

October 19, 2011
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falling manWhen an employee of a Market Basket store in Rindge, MA fell 11 feet to a concrete floor and sustained broken bones and head trauma, store management didn't call 9-1-1. Instead, the injured worker was lifted from the floor, placed in a wheelchair and pushed to the store's receiving dock, where he waited for a relative to take him to the hospital.

That incident prompted an OSHA inspection that ultimately involved two different Market Basket locations -- after an OSHA supervisor who was grocery shopping at a Market Basket in Concord noticed the same type of fall hazards there.

DeMoulas Supermarkets, Inc. -- which does business as Market Basket -- has been cited for 30 alleged willful, repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards and faces a total of $589,200 in proposed fines, chiefly for recurring fall and laceration hazards and also for improperly responding to a worker's serious injury.

"Employers with multiple locations have a responsibility to ensure safe and healthful working conditions at all of their workplaces," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "This employer has been cited for similar conditions at numerous other stores. Although those individual hazards were abated, this employer has not taken effective steps to correct these hazards across the board."

OSHA found that employees at both stores were exposed to falls from heights greater than 11 feet while working on top of produce coolers, freezers and storage lofts that lacked adequate guardrails. OSHA previously had cited DeMoulas for the same hazard at the Concord store as well as stores in Fitchburg, Lawrence and Tewksbury, Mass.

Employees who worked in the produce, deli and bakery departments at the Rindge and Concord stores also were exposed to laceration hazards from knives due to the grocery chain's failure to conduct a hazard assessment and provide hand protection. DeMoulas previously was cited by OSHA for the same types of hazards at its Tewksbury and Westford, Mass., locations.

Due to the company's knowledge of the fall and laceration hazards and its systemic failure to correct them, OSHA cited four willful violations with $261,000 in proposed penalties.

Additionally, DeMoulas Supermarkets has been cited for seven repeat violations with $225,500 in fines for hazardous conditions similar to those previously cited at its Ashland, Andover, Fitchburg, Salem, Tewksbury and Westford, Mass., locations. These citations encompass amputation hazards stemming from a lack of procedures, training and equipment to ensure that a meat saw and seafood cooler would not be activated while employees were cleaning them, as well as hazards from exposed portions of the saw's blade; inadequate training of powered industrial truck operators; and a lack of bloodborne pathogen training for an employee required to clean equipment and work areas contaminated with human blood.

Finally, the company has been cited for 19 serious violations with $102,700 in proposed penalties. One violation was cited under OSHA's general duty clause for failing to contact emergency services and for moving the injured employee. The remaining 18 violations involve obstructed exit routes; a lack of eye and hand protection and an emergency eyewash for employees working with or near battery acid; a lack of chemical hazard communication training for workers; and other hazards related to electrical equipment, machine guarding and bloodborne pathogens.

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