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April 12, 2024
Trader Joe's faces $217K OSHA fine

Grocery store Trader Joe’s is facing a $216,902 Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fine for safety violations at its Greenwood Village, Colorado, location, the agency announced April 10.

OSHA cited Trader Joe’s for a lack of adequate safety training for forklift operators and failing to inspect forklifts at the Greenwood Village facility. The chain has been cited for violating the same standards during three prior OSHA inspections in Maine, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.

The agency also cited the Greenwood Village store for repeatedly blocking electrical equipment and rendering it inaccessible with boxes—a violation that Trader Joe’s was previously cited for in Maine, New York, and New Jersey.

“Employers must comply with all federal safety standards, including forklift safety training and keeping areas around electrical equipment clear to help prevent serious injuries and fatal incidents,” Chad Vivian, OSHA’s Englewood, Colorado, area office director, said in an agency statement.

Trader Joe’s Co., headquartered in Monrovia, California, has eight Colorado locations, according to OSHA, and 568 stores across the country.

Florida shipbuilder cited in confined space fatality

St. John’s Ship Building Inc., a Palatka, Florida, shipbuilder, faces a $55,539 OSHA fine after a welder suffered a fatal suffocation in a 4-foot by 8-foot space in a ship’s hull, the agency announced April 10.

A morning shift welder tasked with doing some fabrication work arrived at St. John’s Ship Building at 5 a.m. on August 28, 2023. Less than 2 hours later, a supervisor found the unconscious welder and signaled for help, only to fall unconscious, as well. A third employee appeared, alerting emergency medical services (EMS) and the Palatka Fire Department, which transported all three workers to a nearby hospital.

The welder died from a lack of oxygen despite receiving emergency treatment. The supervisor and third worker received medical treatment and were released.

OSHA investigators determined St. John’s Ship Building exposed workers to oxygen deficiency by sending the welder into a confined space without first testing the air for oxygen content. The presence of welding gas in the space created an oxygen-deficient atmosphere.

In addition to a lack of oxygen, OSHA investigators found that the shipbuilder exposed workers to struck-by and crushing hazards by failing to conduct annual inspections of six cranes. The agency cited the company with four serious violations.

“Following proper maritime industry protocols could have prevented this worker from losing his life,” Scott Tisdale, OSHA’s Jacksonville, Florida, area office director, said in a statement. “St. John’s Ship Building must perform hazard assessments and implement safety procedures to ensure a tragedy like this does not recur. Every employer should make health and safety a core value in their workplaces.”

OSHA has inspected the company twice since 2019 and found violations related to noise exposure in both inspections.

St. John’s Ship Building Inc.’s operations are located near the St. Johns River in Palatka, according to OSHA. The company, founded in 2006, has about 120 temporary and full-time employees.

From 2011 to 2018, more than 1,030 U.S. workers died from workplace injuries related to confined spaces, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data referenced by OSHA.

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