Walmart can’t beat fine over warehouse worker injury

Feb 24, 2023
FILE PHOTO: Walmart signs are displayed inside a Walmart store in Mexico City

By Daniel Wiessner

(Reuters) – Walmart Inc must pay about $11,000 in fines for failing to prevent heavy boxes from falling 40 feet and seriously injuring an employee at a New York warehouse, the U.S. workplace safety regulator said on Friday.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said a review board had rejected Walmart’s challenge to a penalty the agency levied in response to the 2017 incident.

The case spawned a novel ruling from a U.S. appeals court last year that expanded companies’ liability for neglecting to safely store items in warehouses.

Walmart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

OSHA in 2020 had fined Walmart $10,684 after cases of crescent rolls fell off a pallet stored on a rack at a warehouse near Albany, New York, injuring a worker. The agency said Walmart had violated a rule requiring that items “stored in tiers” be stable and secure.

The review board threw out the fine, saying the rule did not apply because Walmart had stored pallets of boxes individually instead of stacking them.

But the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in October that tall metal racks are “tiers,” so the OSHA rule applied regardless of whether items are stacked.

The case was sent back to the review board, which earlier this month agreed with OSHA that Walmart had violated the rule, the agency said.

(Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York)