Publix Supermarkets has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 16 safety and health violations that occurred at its Jacksonville distribution facility. OSHA looked into the facility after receiving a complaint in September that a worker’s hand had been amputated while cleaning conveyor equipment. Proposed penalties for the violations total $182,000.
According to a Department of Labor press release, the facility was cited for “failing to utilize procedures for the control of potentially hazardous energy when employees service or clean equipment.” As it was a “willful” violation (one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with indifference to worker safety) it came with a $70,000 penalty.
The facility was also cited for “failing to develop, document and utilize lockout/tagout procedures and not conducting an annual inspection of the energy control procedures.” The company’s Dacula, Ga., location was cited for the same thing in April 2008, making it a repeat violation with a penalty of $66,000.
Additional violations include six (with penalties of $39,400) for failing to adequately train employees in proper procedures and failing to protect workers from safety hazards and/or electric shock. OSHA deemed these violations “serious,” as they occurred with “substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.”
Six “other-than-serious safety violations” (those with a direct relationship to job safety and health, that likely wouldn’t cause death or serious physical harm) with penalties of $6,600 were also cited.
“Publix is well aware of the hazards the cleaning crew was exposed to, yet took no steps to safeguard employees by controlling the conveyor equipment’s energy source,” said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA’s area director in Jacksonville, in a press release sent out today. “Exposing workers to amputation hazards is unacceptable, and corrective action must be taken immediately.”
Due to the nature of the safety hazards, OSHA has placed Publix in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure that the facility is in compliance with the law.
Publix’s Jacksonville distribution center employs approximately 450 workers and has a small fresh foods manufacturing process area.