The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited DeMoulas Supermarkets Inc., doing business as Market Basket, for 30 alleged willful, repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards at its stores in Rindge and Concord, N.H. The Tewksbury, Mass.-based grocery chain, which has stores in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, 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 in a press release. “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.”
The inspection, according to a U.S. Department of Labor press release, of the Market Basket store in Rindge on U.S. Route 202 began after an employee sustained broken bones and head trauma on April 17 when he fell 11 feet to a concrete floor from an inadequately guarded storage mezzanine. Instead of calling for emergency help, store management lifted the injured worker from the floor, put him in a wheelchair and pushed him to the store’s receiving dock to wait for a relative to take him to the hospital.
The Concord store inspection began May 16 after an OSHA supervisor observed the same type of fall hazard as the one at the Rindge store while shopping at the Market Basket store on Fort Eddy Road.
OSHA found, according to the press release, 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. A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the law or plain indifference to employee safety and health.
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. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.
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. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
DeMoulas Supermarkets has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA’s Concord Area Office.