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Massachusetts Seafood Wholesaler Cited by Federal Agency for Serious Violations that Fatally Injured Employee and Exposed Employees to Risk of Harm

Under Massachusetts law, employees who suffer work-related injuries may be entitled to benefits and medical costs. Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides reimbursement for medical costs, reduced wages due to a disability, and other coverage, such as job retraining.  In addition to state law, the federal government sets forth standards to ensure the safety of employees throughout the nation.  As federal agencies, the United States Department of Labor and specifically the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) protect the rights of injured workers.

pipeIn some cases, employees may be aware of an unsafe working condition or a workplace hazard. OSHA gives employees the right to file a complaint if they believe there is a serious work hazard or if their employer is not following OSHA standards.  Workers need not know whether a specific OSHA standard has in fact been violated in order to file their complaint.  In many cases, OSHA will inspect the workplace upon receiving a complaint.  If you are injured at work, and your employer did in fact commit an OSHA violation, you may be entitled to recover damages in addition to any workers’ compensation benefits you may receive.

Recently, a Boston seafood wholesaler was cited by OSHA, and the agency issued the employer fines for violating industry and OSHA safety standards.  In fact, an employee was fatally injured on the job in March 2016 after inhaling ammonia that had leaked from a burst pipe in his employer’s machine shop.  OSHA inspected and found serious violations.

Upon the inspection of the seafood wholesaler, OSHA found that there had been an exposure to a “catastrophic” release of ammonia.  This was a result of a defectively designed and improperly maintained ammonia refrigeration system. Not only was the fatally injured employee exposed, but also other employees were harmed.

In addition to the hazards posed by the ammonia release, the employer was found to have exposed employees to risks of falls, hazardous chemicals, and electric shock.  OSHA’s director for the area stated that the employer was required to correct the hazards and prevent them from happening so that other employees are not hurt on the job.

Specifically, OSHA’s inspection identified conditions such as defective ladders and an unmarked door leading to a 17-foot drop. Electrical hazards due to improperly used electrical wiring and equipment posed a risk of harm, as did the use of extension cords instead of permanent wiring.

Due to the findings of hazards and unsafe conditions, OSHA cited the company for 20 serious violations of workplace safety and health standards. The total fines were $174,168.  The company was required to meet with the OSHA area director within 15 days of receiving the citations and proposed penalties.

At Pulgini & Norton, we help victims of workplace accidents and have represented clients throughout Massachusetts for over four decades.  By contacting a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer, you can preserve your right to recovery.  The attorneys at Pulgini & Norton can provide dedicated legal representation for your work injury claim.  Contact our office by calling (781) 843-2200 or using our online form.

More Blog Posts:

Reviewing Board Holds Massachusetts Law Requires Funding Mechanisms to Remain in Place to Ensure Payment of Workers’ Compensation Benefits Even for Employees of “Defunct Self-Insurers”, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, November 17, 2016

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Holds Injured Parties Can Recover Pain and Suffering Without Concern Damages Will be Repaid to Workers’ Compensation Insurer, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, November 3, 2016

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