OSHA Ruling Underscores Employer Safety Responsibilities
A new ruling from the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission underscores the principle that employers are ultimately responsible for the safety of their workers.
After years of litigation, a federal review panel affirmed that Walmart Inc. violated federal workplace safety standards at a Jonestown, New York warehouse.
It was there in 2017, when a package fell from storage racks onto an employee, leaving the worker with serious, long-term head injuries.
Investigators said another employee who was operating a forklift inadvertently hit the pallet that stacked the merchandise.
Walmart challenged OSHA’s findings, claiming the federal workplace safety standard did not apply to the pallets Walmart used in its racking system.
After several years of litigation, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit found the cited standard applied to Walmart and directed the commission to review the case again.
On Feb. 9, 2023, the commission ruled OSHA cited Walmart correctly for failing to meet the agency’s safety standard for storage of material that requires items stored in tiers must be stable and secure against sliding and collapse.
The commission fined Walmart more than $10,000 and ordered the company to correct the hazards within six months. Walmart has 60 days to appeal.
Probably, the most noteworthy aspect of the ruling, CBIA compensation services and safety director Phillip Montgomery said, is that the commission found that even if the company’s practices were common in the industry, as the company argued, managers should have known the racks posed a danger to employees.
For more information, contact CBIA’s Phillip Montgomery.
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