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October 18. 2011 5:37PM

Market Basket faces $589,200 in fines

MANCHESTER — The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is seeking $589,200 in fines against Market Basket for alleged safety violations at stores in Rindge - where a worker fell 11 feet to a concrete floor in April from a storage mezzanine - and Concord.

“Instead of calling for emergency help, store management lifted the injured worker from the floor, put him in a wheelchair and pushed him to the store’s receiving dock to wait for a relative to take him to the hospital,” according to an OSHA news release.

The employee sustained broken bones and head trauma in the April 17 incident, OSHA said.

“The employee is expected back to work before the end of the month,” said attorney James F. Laboe, who is representing Market Basket. Laboe is with the Orr and Reno law firm in Concord.

OSHA said Market Basket stores in Concord and Rindge lacked fall protection as well as hand protection against cuts from knives in the produce, deli and bakery departments.

“The Concord store inspection began May 16 after an OSHA supervisor observed the same type of fall hazard as the one at the Rindge store while shopping at the Market Basket store on Fort Eddy Road,” OSHA said.

Representatives of Market Basket, the trade name for DeMoulas Supermarkets Inc., will meet with OSHA officials on Oct. 26.

“While the company does not agree with many of the conclusions reached by OSHA, it is confident that common ground can be reached while achieving the mutual goal of promoting a healthy and safe work environment for Market Basket employees,” the company said in a statement released by Orr and Reno law firm.

“It is no coincidence that Market Basket’s unique ‘family oriented’ work environment, coupled with its safety and health program, has led to its outstanding record of maintaining a safe workplace,” the statement said.

But OSHA said the supermarket was a repeat violator.

“They have a significant OSHA history,” Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA’s New Hampshire area director, said Tuesday.

OSHA said it previously issued the following citations against Market Basket:

- Failing to install guardrails to prevent falls from atop coolers, freezers and storage lofts at stores in Fitchburg, Lawrence, and Tewksbury, Mass.

- Failing to assess cut hazards and provide hand protection for produce, deli and bakery department workers at stores in Tewksbury and Westford, Mass.

- Amputation hazards stemming from a lack of procedures; training and equipment to ensure that a meat saw and seafood cooler would not be activated while employees were cleaning them, as well as hazards from exposed portions of the saw’s blade; inadequate training of powered industrial truck operators; and a lack of blood borne pathogen training for an employee required to clean equipment and work areas contaminated with human blood. The market was previously cited for those violations at stores in Ashland, Andover, Fitchburg, Salem, Tewksbury and Westford, Mass.

OSHA cited Market Basket for 19 other violations including failing to contact emergency services and moving the injured employee.