A 22-year-old employee of Moisha's Kosher Discount Supermarket Inc. in Brooklyn was fatally crushed between a cement wall and a forklift on June 10, 2014, as employees used an electrical pallet jack to push a broken forklift up a ramp to the supermarket's roof. While doing so, the forklift rolled back down the ramp, and then pinned the worker against the wall. An inspection by OSHA on the same day as the fatality found that his death was preventable.
Double the allowed capacity
OSHA determined that the broken 8,600-pound forklift weighed twice the pallet jack's maximum capacity of 4,000 pounds; the defective forklift had not been removed from service, as required; and workers had not been trained to operate the forklift or the pallet jack safely.
"The pallet jack and forklift were not used and moved correctly, which resulted in a needless, avoidable loss of a worker's life," said Kay Gee, OSHA's area director for Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. "Tragically, Moisha's Kosher Discount Supermarket employees were not trained to use these machines safely and could not recognize their exposure to a deadly hazard."
OSHA's powered industrial truck standard requires that employers teach workers how to operate machines properly and ensure that they understand the training. The standard also prohibits pallet jacks and forklifts from lifting or moving objects heavier than their maximum lifting capacity.
OSHA's inspection identified nine serious violations of workplace safety standards in the supermarket's warehouse. These included blocked exit aisles and passageways; missing exit signs; misuse of portable ladders and a battery charger; lack of quick drenching eyewash for employees who worked with corrosive chemicals; and lack of a chemical hazard communication plan.
"Nothing can bring this worker back to his loved ones. This employer must take immediate, effective steps to identify, minimize and eliminate hazardous conditions to avoid another senseless tragedy," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.
Moisha's Kosher Discount Supermarket faces $42,000 in fines.