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Cal/OSHA fines grocery stores for COVID-19 safety violations

grocery store

The California Department of Industrial Relations has fined five Los Angeles-area grocery stores between $13,500 and $25,560 for failing to protect workers from exposure to COVID-19 because they did not update their workplace safety plans to properly address hazards related to the virus.

The fines totaled $104,380.

The stores, all owned by Cincinnati, Ohio-based Kroger Co., in some cases allowed too many customers inside at the same time, which prevented workers from maintaining at least six feet of physical distance, according to a statement by Cal/OSHA.

Two of the grocery stores cited had failed to timely report to Cal/Osha a worker’s fatal COVID-19 illness. Cal/OSHA — which has imposed COVID-19-related reporting requirements — said it did not learn of the fatalities for nearly a week.

Cal/OSHA inspectors investigating complaints at two other locations found that the stores failed to provide effective training for their employees, including instruction on how the virus is spread, measures to avoid infection, signs and symptoms of infection, and how to safely use cleaners and disinfectants, according to the statement.

At least two locations were cited for not installing barriers between workers and customers.

A spokeswoman for the grocery chain could not immediately be reached for comment.

More insurance and workers compensation news on the coronavirus crisis here