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Large fines vacated in lockout/tagout violation charge

Large fines vacated in lockout/tagout violation charge

An administrative law judge with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission on Friday vacated an alleged lockout/tagout violation stemming from an incident where a worker sustained a serious leg injury when he was struck by an automated trolley at a Walmart distribution center in Brundige, Alabama.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the October 2016 incident and recommended citations be issued to Swisslog Logistics Inc., which employed the worker, and Wal-Mart Stores East LP, which owned the site. OSHA charged each employer with a willful violation for “failing to utilize documented procedures for the control of potential hazardous energy” and proposing a penalty of $126,749.00 for each company, according to documents in Secretary of Labor v. Swisslog Logistics, Inc., and Wal-Mart Stores East L.P. d/b/a Distribution Center 7019.

The administrative law judge vacated the citations that the company had failed to ensure proper procedures and instead stated that the companies had procedures in place, adding that “Wal-Mart and Swisslog employees entering the (Electrified Monorail System) did not, however, comply with Wal-Mart's rigorous procedure,” among other rationale for dismissing the fines. 

“It is apparent something went wrong at Wal-Mart’s facility on October 18, 2016, when a Swisslog employee was seriously injured,” the ruling states. “The fact of the injury is not enough, however, to establish Swisslog and Wal-Mart violated the cited standard. For a section of the (lockout/tagout) standard to apply, the Secretary (of Labor) must establish the fundamental fact that the energization or start up at issue was unexpected. He failed to do so here. Swisslog and Wal-Mart also established their employees were engaged in normal production operations not covered by the (lockout/tagout) standard.”

Officials with Wal-Mart and Swisslog could not immediately be reached for comment.






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