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DeMoulas and OSHA Finally Reach a Settlement After Widespread Safety Complaints

Tewksbury-based DeMoulas, the parent company of the Market Basket stores, reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) this week. The settlement stems from numerous safety complaints filed against the company regarding worker safety in the various stores throughout Massachusetts.

Under the terms of the settlement reached between DeMoulas and the USDOL, DeMoulas has agreed to “correct hazards and take substantive steps to enhance safety and health measures for employees at all of the chain’s more than 60 Market Basket stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire,” according to documents released relating to the settlement.

In addition, the company has agreed to pay $400,000 in fines relating to the complaints filed alleging Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, violations.

OSHA inspectors, following up on complaints filed with the agency, found numerous fall and laceration hazards at some of the Market Basket stores which presented serious risks of injury to employees at the stores. One of the more serious complaints filed by a store employee stemmed from an incident when the worker fell and suffered broken bones while working at one of the Market Basket stores. Instead of calling an ambulance, the manager of the store allegedly put the employee in a wheelchair and sent him back to the loading dock to wait for a family member to come and get him and take him to the hospital. OSHA inspectors cited fall hazards of as high as 11 feet in some of the stores, a clear risk to employees.

Massachusetts Workplace Risks

Unfortunately, workplace conditions like those alleged in the complaints against DeMoulas are far too common in Massachusetts and around the country. Despite federal and state regulations that address workplace hazards and safety, some companies continue to employ practices that put workers at risk on a daily basis. In one year alone, 89,600 workplace illnesses and injuries were reported in Massachusetts by private sector employees. Although true accidents do happen, many of these accidents could have been prevented had the employer adhered to the many safety regulations in place that are intended to prevent accidents and injuries.

OSHA regulations apply to many Massachusetts workplaces. Although some smaller workplaces may not be required to follow OSHA rules, the majority of work environments are covered by OSHA guidelines and/or other federal or state safety guidelines. If you believe that your workplace is in violation of any of the OSHA regulations, you may make a formal complaint to OSHA directly. You may even remain anonymous if you choose.

Workers’ Compensation

In Massachusetts, the Department of Industrial Accidents is responsible for handling workers’ compensation claims. The purpose of the workers’ compensation system is to ensure that an employee’s work-related injury or illness is covered without the need for the worker to prove negligence, or fault, on the part of the employer. In a traditional personal injury lawsuit, the victim must prove that the defendant was negligent in some way in order to be entitled to compensation for his or her injuries. The workers’ compensation system takes away this requirement for victims of workplace injuries. In the DeMoulas example, the injured worker who broke his bones would be entitled to medical treatment and lost wages compensation even without proving that his employer was in violation of OSHA regulations.

If you have been injured on the job in Massachusetts, you, too, may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The type and extent of the benefits to which you are entitled will depend on a number of factors. Having a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney on your side from the beginning of your claim can help streamline the process and ensure that you receive all the compensation to which you are rightfully entitled.

The Massachusetts workplace injury lawyers at Kantrovitz& Associates, P.C., are dedicated to helping workers receive the maximum amount of workers’ compensation benefits possible under the law. For more information or to schedule your free evaluation, call 800-367-0871 today or feel free to use our online contact form.