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The U.S. Department of Labor's regional solicitor's office in Boston has filed a complaint against DeMoulas Super Markets Inc., asking the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission to order the Tewksbury, Mass.-based chain to comply with certain OSHA safety standards.
Specifically, the department is seeking to protect employees from fall and laceration hazards at DeMoulas' more than 60 Market Basket stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
The request 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 OSHA.
"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 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 such 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.
DeMoulas Super Markets has 20 days from receipt of the complaint to file an answer.