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November 01, 2023
Florida grocer cited in employee's fatal fall

Florida grocer Kissimmee Meat & Produce Inc. faces $95,315 in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines following a 65-year-old clerk’s fatal fall from a defective ladder, the agency announced October 27. OSHA cited the employer for 11 serious safety violations.

OSHA inspectors found that the employee fell about 9 feet when a ladder rolled as they retrieved merchandise from the second tier of a storage rack in the store’s warehouse. The agency determined that the company violated several safety standards by doing the following: 

  • Allowing workers to use modified ladders, exposing them to fall hazards;
  • Permitting employees to use ladders in disrepair and without conducting an inspection to identify damage and modifications that could cause employee injuries;
  • Exposing workers to a 9-foot fall hazard by allowing workers to use rolling ladders without locking systems in place and training on how to use the ladders safely;
  • Subjecting workers to 7-foot fall hazards when they tried to retrieve merchandise without fall protection;
  • Failing to keep emergency exits clear of obstructions, such as carts, equipment, ladders, and pallets; 
  • Storing pallets of material in front of main breaker panels; 
  • Exposing workers to fire hazards by leaving fire extinguishers unmarked; 
  • Failing to stack boxes of merchandise safely, exposing workers to struck-by hazards; and
  • Failing to provide powered industrial vehicle training and certification for employees operating forklifts. 

“Employers are required to make sure that the equipment workers use is serviceable and safe,” Danelle Jindra, OSHA’s Tampa, Florida, area director, said in an agency statement. “Kissimmee Meat & Produce failed to meet their responsibility and it cost someone their life.”

OSHA announced last week that its powered industrial trucks standard (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1910.178) is one of its top 10 most frequently cited standards. The powered industrial trucks standard is the agency’s fifth most frequently cited standard, cited 2,561 times in fiscal year (FY) 2023.

While OSHA’s construction industry ladders standard (§1926.1053) is the agency’s third most cited standard, the agency cited Kissimmee Meat & Produce for violations of the general industry ladders standard (§1910.23). It also cited the employer for a violation of the general industry fall protection standard (§1910.28); the construction industry fall protection standard (§1926.501) has been the agency’s most cited standard for 13 straight years.

Earlier this year, OSHA unveiled a National Emphasis Program (NEP) of enforcement and outreach to address fall hazards across all industries.

OSHA also cited Kissimmee Meat & Produce for blocked electrical panels and emergency exit routes, as well as improperly stacked merchandise—violations the agency regularly cites in retail establishments.

The agency reached a settlement agreement this summer with Dollar Tree Stores, Inc., the operator of discount retailers Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores, to resolve violations that included blocked electrical panels and exit routes, as well as improperly stacked boxes of merchandise. OSHA reached a similar settlement agreement with the Target Corporation in 2020, resolving violations that included blocked or obstructed access to emergency exits and fire exit routes and/or unsafe storage of materials at stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York.

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