Cal/OSHA has issued $308,435 in proposed penalties to National Distribution Center LP (doing business as NFI) for failing to provide employees with foot protection at its Mira Loma, Calif., facility.
The agency cited the Cherry Hill, N.J.-based logistics, warehousing and distribution firm for the same violation in 2012, and alleges that NFI has failed to address the situation.
“Prevention is vital to limiting accidents in warehouses where hazards are magnified by the size of the facility and number of employees,” said Christine Baker, director of the California Department of Industrial Relations. “Unfortunately, the employer in this case did not follow through on an agreement to provide protection.”
Cal/OSHA launched its investigation in July 2012, following a complaint. The agency’s San Bernardino office inspected NFI's Mira Loma facility and issued a number of citations.
The Mira Loma facility is a cross-docking operation – a logistics procedure in which goods are unloaded quickly from inbound transportation docks and moved to outbound docks without storing them. At 599,340 square feet, the Mira Loma cross dock is one of the largest in the country, with 450 employees on site.
One serious citation alleges that NFI employees were exposed to foot injuries because they did not have appropriate protection when working near the facility’s dozens of forklifts.
Cal/OSHA also cited NFI to replace worn and faded painted stripes that delineate pedestrian aisles and forklift aisles, because the forklifts were observed driving through the pedestrian aisles to reach the dock doors.
NFI appealed the citations to the Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board, but later withdrew its challenge of the foot protection violation. In January, an administrative law judge signed an order approving a settlement of the case, affirming the citation.
In February, NFI and Cal/OSHA met to discuss abatement options. But following a report that a forklift ran over a worker’s foot and broke a toe, the division conducted a follow-up inspection of the warehouse on March 25.
Cal/OSHA said it discovered that NFI had purchased foot coverings, but they were noncompliant and had not been distributed to the workers, according to the agency. Cal/OSHA issued a notification of failure to abate to NFI, and calculated additional penalties based on the number of days the company exposed workers to foot hazards.
“Had NFI followed through on its obligation to provide proper foot protection two years ago when this was first brought to their attention, the additional penalties would not have been needed,” said Juliann Sum, acting Cal/OSHA Chief. “Forklift operation is the biggest single cause of serious injury to workers’ feet. NFI ignored this hazard.”
NFI has appealed Cal/OSHA’s failure-to-abate notice.