Aug. 19, 2015 BOS 2015-154
Hannaford Supermarkets acts to prevent musculoskeletal injuries
for warehouse employees in Maine and New York
OSHA urges other supermarket chains to follow suit
BOSTON - Before consumers get to choose products in the supermarket, workers in warehouses nationwide pack bulk quantities of merchandise onto wooden pallets and load them onto delivery trucks. The nature of this work puts the people who do it at risk for serious sprains, strains and other musculoskeletal injuries. One supermarket chain, Maine-based Hannaford Supermarkets, has chosen to address the issue.
After inspections in 2013 and 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Hannaford for failing to keep its Schodack Landing, New York, and South Portland, Maine, distribution centers free from recognized hazards likely to cause musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs. Hannaford initially contested its citations, but has now reached a settlement with the department in which the company agrees to institute ongoing and effective worker protection safeguards at both distribution centers.
Illustration: grocery pallets
"Many jobs in grocery and other warehouses require significant amounts of manual material handling. If employers do not take steps to address musculoskeletal hazards, workers will be hurt," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Hannaford is investing in preventing worker injuries. We urge other employers to follow its example. This action is good for workers and for a company's bottom line."
Under the settlement, Hannaford will do the following:
- Engage a qualified ergonomist to assess both warehouses and prepare a report with recommendations addressing each of the hazards identified by OSHA.
- Have an employee-manager ergonomics committee at each facility participate in the process and make recommendations to the ergonomist and the company.
- Ensure that employees of contractors who perform similar work in the warehouses have access to the same protective measures as Hannaford employees.
- Request those contractors to implement the ergonomic work practices recommended by the ergonomist.
- Pay $9,750 in fines.
The settlement can be viewed here*.
To assist employers and workers in identifying and preventing MSDs and other injuries in grocery warehouses, OSHA has a free grocery warehousing eTool available on its website. In addition, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has published an additional resource titled "Ergonomic Solutions for Retailers".
The original inspections were conducted by OSHA's Albany, New York, and Augusta, Maine, offices. Attorneys Daniel Hennefeld and Ralph Minichiello of the department's regional solicitors' offices in New York City and Boston negotiated the settlement.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's offices in Augusta (207-626-9160), Bangor (207-941-8177) or Albany (518-464-4338).
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
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Perez v. Hannaford Bros. Co.
OSHRC Dockets: 14-1427 & 15-0264
Ted Fitzgerald, 617-565-2075, email@example.com
Release Number: 15-1438-BOS
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The department's Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).
*Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.