Workers at a downtown Atlanta hotel are demanding changes after an employee died while being trapped for hours in a walk-in freezer with a malfunctioning exit button.
News sources say 61-year-old Carolyn Mangham was in the Westin Peachtree Plaza freezer – with temperatures below minus 10 – for approximately 13 hours on March 22. Her body was discovered after her husband called the hotel to report her missing.
A hotel spokeswoman said the exit device on the door was tested dozens of times after the fatality and worked each time. However, during an OSHA inspection in April, the agency officer and a hotel employee were trapped in the freezer when the exit device failed to open the door. They had to pound on the door to alert others to their plight.
UNITE HERE, the union representing hotel employees, wants workers to carry “panic buttons” that they could use to communicate with others in the event of emergencies. Mangham’s co-workers also want that freezer – which has been padlocked since her death – removed from the facility, because it is a reminder of the tragedy.
OSHA has cited the hotel for a serious safety violation in Mangham’s death and proposed $12,500 in penalties. The hotel issued a statement saying that it would contest OSHA’s findings.