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Region 2 News Release: 11-1315-NEW
Sept. 22, 2011
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2074
Email: fitzgerald.edmund@dol.gov

US Labor Department's OSHA cites Brooklyn, NY, supermarket for locking in
night shift employees, other violations; proposes more than $62,000 in fines
Workers unable to exit swiftly in event of emergency

NEW YORK – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited a Brooklyn supermarket for alleged willful and serious violations of workplace safety standards after an inspection found that night shift employees were locked in and not allowed to leave the building without the employer's permission. Mermaid Meat Co., doing business as Fine Fare Supermarkets at 2901 Mermaid Ave., faces a total of $62,300 in proposed fines.

"One hundred years ago in New York City, 146 workers died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Many of them died because they were locked in and unable to escape swiftly," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "A century later, we still find employers locking in their employees or otherwise obstructing emergency exit access. These are imminent danger situations, potential catastrophes in the making. Conditions from 1911 should not continue to exist in 2011."

"Our inspection found that all five exit doors were locked at night and could not be unlocked without a manager's permission. These workers were essentially caged and that is completely unacceptable," said Kay Gee, OSHA's area director based in Manhattan. "Employees must be able to exit the workplace swiftly in the event of a fire or other emergency. When they cannot do so, they face serious injury or death from burns and smoke inhalation."