OSHA has fined Wegmans Food Markets Inc. $188,200 for five violations, following two employee injuries. The fines reached into six digits because three of them were categorized as repeat.
In March, a sanitation crew member suffered a severed fingertip when it became caught in the pinch point of an operating conveyor that he was cleaning, according to OSHA. One month later, a mechanic suffered a first degree burn on his wrist from steam that escaped from a valve he was repairing, the agency said.
OSHA issued three repeat and two serious violations to Wegmans.
The three repeat violations were for hazards that were similar to ones cited during a 2011 inspection:
- Procedures were not developed, documented and utilized for the control of potentially hazardous energy
- Employees didn’t receive training in the recognition of hazardous energy sources, and
- Methods of machine guarding weren’t provided to protect the operator and other employees in the machine area from hazards such as those created by point of operation and in-going nip-point.
The repeat violations accounted for $175,000 in fines.
OSHA also cited Wegmans for inadequate hand and face protection for the employees who worked on the steam valve. The two serious violations totaled $13,200 in fines.
Wegmans released a statement:
“Even one injury to an employee is too many for us. Thankfully, our bakeshop employee did not lose his fingertip and both employees fully recovered from their injuries and were able to return to work. The current rate of workplace accidents at Wegmans is the lowest in our history.”
Wegmans operates 86 supermarkets along the East Coast from Massachusetts to Virginia.
This case points to an important fact about OSHA enforcement when injuries are involved. The employee’s severed fingertip (which Wegmans emphasizes in its statement was not “lost”) counted as an amputation in OSHA’s eyes.
This has been one of the most asked questions regarding whether an injury has to be recorded as an amputation: Is it an amputation and it’s just the fingertip and no bone was severed?
OSHA’s answer has been that this must be recorded as an amputation, as was the case with the Wegmans employee.
All work-related amputations and losses of an eye (physical loss, not loss of eyesight) must be reported to OSHA within 24 hours. This is a change of reporting requirements that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2015 in states where federal OSHA has jurisdiction. States with their own OSHA plans have more time to enact a similar requirement, and some already have.