Safety and OSHA News

OSHA fines store for locking in employees

A supermarket is facing OSHA fines after an inspection found night shift employees were locked in and not allowed to leave the building without the employer’s permission.

Mermaid Meat Co., doing business as Fine Fare Supermarkets, had all five of its exit doors of its Brooklyn, NY, store locked at night. Employees couldn’t unlock the door without a manager’s permission.

One hundred years ago in New York City, 146 workers died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire,” said David Michaels, the head of OSHA. “Many of them died because they were locked in and unable to escape swiftly. A century later, we still find employers locking in their employees.”

OSHA standards require employees be able to open an exit door from the inside at all times, without keys, tools or special knowledge. A device such as a panic bar that locks only from the outside is permitted on exit doors.

Mermaid faces a total of $62,300 in fines: one willful violation of $49,000 for the locked exits, and four serious violations totaling $13,300 for obstructed exit routes as well as electrical and tripping hazards.

The supermarket has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to contest the fines.

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  1. Lock the main exits and put emergency alarms with panic bars on other emergency exits. The reasoning for the company doing this is to prevent theft from their employees.

  2. I agree, when i have audited companies, the #1 reason they have for blocking or locking exit doors is that they have had a lot of loss from employees putting items outside for accomplices to steal; persons taking unauthorized smoke breaks, allowing persons inside the building, etc. The cost of putting alarms is sometimes cited, but this can easily be remedied through getting a break on your insurance premiums.
    the most viable and least used option is to place security cams to a secure dvr on each exit. If someone is opening the doors or taking items out, it is easy to catch how & who is doing it. This cost can be also amortized over time and can be off-set by lower insurance premiums as well.
    Plants that do have security cams and alarms on doors with panic bars need to enforce their rules with zero – tolerance policies. Too many times I have had engineering controls in place, only to have employees & floor supervisors by-pass them for various reasons; then when a theft or problem occurs, everyone starts pointing fingers.

  3. DUHH! Exit doors are shall remain unlocked when building is occupied; waht part of unlocked don’t you understand? Moron company deserves the fine for their utter stupidity, as well as indifference to the safety of their employees. As to the whiners claiming that “shrinkage” justifies the rank stupidity of the owner; “stupid is as stupid does”. Double the fine, throw the imbecile in jail for a day or two.

  4. Three cheers for David Michaels

  5. The manager at my job locks the elevator every day so wokers don’t go on break to early is that legal????

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