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Supermarket faces OSHA citations, employer defense may be useful

Employers should always do what they can to prevent workplace accidents from occurring. However, despite an employer's best efforts, there is always a possibility of something unexpected occurring that could prompt citations for work safety violations. In this case, an employer defense strategy may be useful in California.

One supermarket chain is now in the middle of this type of situation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed to fine the company almost $190,000. OSHA is accusing Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. of repeated violations of work safety regulations, which OSHA believes contributed to causing two major worker injuries suffered by Wegmans's employees earlier in the year.

One incident occurred in March when a worker lost his fingertip after it was caught in a pinch point on an operating conveyor. OSHA claims that the employer failed to deactivate and lock out the power source for the conveyor. The agency is also claiming that the employer failed to train workers how to properly do so.

The second incident occurred the next month when a mechanic sustained burns on his wrist while attempting to repair a valve. OSHA is accusing the company of failing to create safe procedures for locking out the valve that had supplied steam to a pipe. Steam was released from the pipe causing the worker to suffer first degree burns.

On the other hand, the employer also has legal rights in this situation or any other similar situation in California. It is possible that a proactive employer defense strategy can help to minimize the financial liabilities for the employer. However, this may require taking legal action to challenge the OSHA citations.

Source: businessinsurance.com, "Grocery chain faces fines in series of worker injuries", Gloria Gonzalez, Sept. 14, 2015

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