The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed fining Wegmans Food Markets $188,000 following an investigation of two worker injuries at the retailer’s bakery facility in Rochester, N.Y.
The agency said that in March, a sanitation crew member lost a fingertip when it caught in the pinch point of an operating conveyor that he was cleaning. A month later, a mechanic sustained a first degree burn on his wrist when steam released while he attempted to repair a valve. A subsequent inspection by OSHA’s Buffalo, N.Y., office found hazardous conditions similar to those cited by the agency during a 2011 inspection of the same facility.
In the case of the amputation, OSHA found that Wegmans failed to turn off and lock out the conveyor’s power source, train employees in how to do this, and ensure the conveyor’s moving parts were protected against contact. In the steam burn incident, the company failed to develop a procedure to lockout the valve supplying steam to the pipe. The recurring hazards led the agency to cite Wegmans for three repeated violations with $175,000 in proposed fines.
OSHA cited the company for inadequate hand and face protection for the employees who worked on the steam valve, with fines amounting to $13,200.
Wegmans has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings.
“We care about our employees and want them to be safe. Thankfully, our bakeshop employee did not lose his fingertip and both employees fully recovered from their injuries and were able to return to work,” Jo Natale, spokeswoman for the Rochester-based Wegmans, said in a statement provided to SN.
“We work hard to maintain a safe workplace everywhere. Even one injury to an employee is too many for us,” Natale continued. “The current rate of workplace accidents at Wegmans is the lowest in our history.”
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