Worker Loses Hand in Conveyor, Supermarket Fined $182,000

"Publix is well aware of the hazards the cleaning crew was exposed to, yet took no steps to safeguard employees by controlling the conveyor equipment's energy source," said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA's area director in Jacksonville, Fla.

Publix Supermarkets Inc. has been cited by OSHA for 16 safety and health violations at its distribution facility in Jacksonville, Fla., after receiving a complaint in September that a worker's hand was amputated while cleaning conveyor equipment. Proposed penalties total $182,000.

One willful violation with a $70,000 penalty was cited for failing to utilize procedures for the control of potentially hazardous energy when employees service or clean equipment.

Two repeat violations with penalties of $66,000 include failing to develop, document, and utilize lockout/tagout procedures and not conducting an annual inspection of the energy control procedures. The company's Dacula, Ga., location was cited for the same violation in April 2008.

Publix Supermarkets also has been cited for six serious violations with penalties of $39,400 for failing to adequately train employees in procedures for the lockout/tagout of machine energy sources, install machine guarding on equipment where employees could come into contact with rotating and ingoing nip points, protect workers from struck by hazards by not anchoring equipment to the floor, protect workers from electric shock by having damaged electrical equipment repaired, use appropriate electrical outlet boxes in wet/damp locations, and use receptacles that did not have weatherproof enclosures.

Six other-than-serious safety violations with penalties of $6,600 have been cited for failing to complete an OSHA 301 log injury and illness incident report or its equivalent for 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010, and have a company executive sign the OSHA 300 log of injuries and illnesses for 2007 and 2008. One other-than-serious health violation, with no monetary penalty, has been cited for failing to have a written hazard communications program that listed hazardous chemicals in the workplace.

"Publix is well aware of the hazards the cleaning crew was exposed to, yet took no steps to safeguard employees by controlling the conveyor equipment's energy source," said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA's area director in Jacksonville. "Exposing workers to amputation hazards is unacceptable, and corrective action must be taken immediately."

Due to the repeat violations and the nature of the hazards, OSHA has placed Publix in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.

Publix is a privately owed company with 1,026 supermarkets, eight distribution centers, and five manufacturing facilities with operations in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee. The Jacksonville distribution center employs approximately 450 workers and has a small fresh-foods manufacturing process area.

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