April 2, 2015
Kroger allows forklift hazards at Columbus supermarket
OSHA finds 2 willful, 2 serious safety violations, imposes more than $130K in fines
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Millions of pounds of merchandise and materials are moved each year by forklift drivers, thousands of whom suffer severe injuries while navigating narrow aisles, fellow workers with heavy, sometimes shifting loads. The dangers facing those who drive or work around forklifts were on display at a Kroger Co. supermarket in Columbus, Ohio which now faces $130,900 in fines for several violations.
Acting on a complaint, U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors found two willful and two serious safety violations after they found Kroger failed to remove damaged powered industrial trucks from service and to examine forklifts after each shift to report and correct defects. These violations resulted in two willful violations. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.
Two serious safety citations were issued for failing to train forklift operators and not properly repairing a pallet jack charger. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.
"Employers must educate and train forklift operators and others working in warehouses and stores about the hazards associated with these commonly used vehicles," said Deborah Zubaty, OSHA's area director in Columbus. "Safe operation requires training, removal of debris and other material from the path of forklifts, alerting pedestrians and maintaining the vehicle. Like many companies we inspect, Kroger failed to follow these safety precautions. The food company must re-examine its training and maintenance procedures for forklifts."
To view current citations, visit http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Kroger_Company_1005045_0326_15.pdf*.
Based in Cincinnati, Kroger Co. is a national grocery retailer operating more than 2,600 stores under more than two dozen flags, including Kroger's, Ralph's and many others, and 36 distribution centers in 34 states. It employs about 400,000 workers and had sales of $108.5 billion in 2014. The Columbus store on the 1300 block of Chambers Road has about 150 workers.
The company 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 before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report 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 Columbus Area Office at 614-469-5582.
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 http://www.osha.gov.
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Release Number: 15-472-CHI
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).
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