Warehouse workers across the country are responsible for preparing merchandise before it makes its way to shelves. They pack wooden pallets full of bulk quantities of goods, then load them onto delivery trucks bound for the store. The nature of this manual labor puts warehouse workers at risk of serious sprains, strains and other musculoskeletal injuries.
As a supermarket chain that relies on warehouse workers to ready its products, Hannaford Supermarkets is stepping up to make its employees' workplace safer.
After inspections in 2013 and 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Hannaford for failing to keep two of its distribution centers free from hazards known to cause musculoskeletal disorders. After initially contesting the citations, the Maine-based supermarket chain came to a settlement with OSHA in which it agreed to implement worker protection safeguards at its distribution centers in addition to paying $9,750 in fines.
Hannaford's new site safety plan includes:
- consulting a qualified ergonomist who will assess the warehouses and recommend solutions for OSHA-identified hazards
- creating an employee-manager ergonomics committee at each facility to make recommendations to the ergonomist and the company
- ensuring contractors are afforded the same safety measures as full-time employees and recommending they follow the ergonomist's recommendations.
OSHA hopes Hannaford's new protocols will inspire others in the industry to adopt similar workplace safety programs.
"Many jobs in grocery and other warehouses require significant amounts of manual material handling," said OSHA's Assistant Secretary of Labor, Dr. David Michaels. "If employers do not take steps to address musculoskeletal hazards, workers will be hurt. Hannaford is investing in preventing worker injuries. We urge other employers to follow its example. This action is good for workers and for a company's bottom line."
At Safety Advantage, LLC, helping you keep your employees safe is our top priority. For help creating or implementing a site-specific safety plan for your workplace or to take advantage of our safety classes, contact us today.