OSHA Demands DeMoulas Super Markets Address Hazards at All 60+ Massachusetts and New Hampshire Stores

Jan. 19, 2012
The regional solicitor’s office of the Department of Labor has filed a complaint on behalf of OSHA with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission against DeMoulas Super Markets Inc., requesting that the commission order the chain to comply with OSHA standards and protect employees at all of the locations of the New England grocery chain from fall sand laceration hazards. This only is the second time an enterprise-wide request for relief has been sought by OSHA.

The unusual request for enterprise-wide relief is based on hazards OSHA found during inspections of various DeMoulas stores, including the agency’s most recent inspections at Market Basket stores in Rindge and Concord, N.H. Those inspections resulted in citations and proposed OSHA fines totaling $589,200, which DeMoulas has contested to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

“Hazardous conditions at multiple locations that expose employees to serious injuries demand a swift and comprehensive corrective response at the corporate level,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. “OSHA insists that this employer completely and effectively eliminate the hazards it never should have allowed to exist in the first place.”

The department’s complaint alleges that employees at multiple Market Basket stores were exposed or likely to be exposed to fall hazards from unguarded, open-sided work and storage areas, including storage lofts and atop produce coolers and freezers. An employee of the Market Basket store in Rindge was seriously injured in April 2011 when he fell 11 feet onto a concrete floor from an inadequately guarded storage mezzanine, and an employee at a Billerica, Mass., store was seriously injured under similar conditions in 2007.

The company also allegedly failed to protect employees in produce, deli and bakery departments against laceration hazards from knives and cutting instruments by not conducting job hazard analyses that would have identified the need for hand protection, and by not providing hand protection to workers exposed to the hazards. In 2006, after being cited by OSHA, the company agreed to complete job hazard analyses in all stores but failed to do so. Between 2008 and 2011, employees at the Rindge and Concord stores sustained at least 40 recorded hand lacerations.

“Worker safety is not optional, and it cannot be addressed in a piecemeal fashion. It must be addressed across the board,” said Michaels. “This employer has the responsibility to safeguard all its employees at all its locations, something it has failed to do.”

DeMoulas Super Markets has 20 days from receipt of the complaint to file an answer. Click here for details of OSHA’s inspections of the Rindge and Concord stores and copies of the citations.

This complaint filed with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission marks only the second such time that the department has expressly sought enterprise-wide relief from an employer. The first time was against the U.S. Postal Service in July 2010 for correction of electrical work safety violations at 350 postal facilities throughout the nation. That matter is pending.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!