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Meal kit facility workers exposed to severe workplace injuries

It is unacceptable for California workers to spend the majority of every day in workplace environments in which employee health and safety are entirely disregarded. The prevalence of violence and assaults, along with the threat of suffering serious workplace injuries, are reportedly the conditions to which the employees at the packing facility of Blue Apron meal kits are exposed. Police reports indicate that 12 incidents of violence had been investigated at the facility in just more than three years.

One day last August, company management received a voicemail indicating that a disgruntled worker was planning to resign and then come back to shoot two other workers and his manager. An unrelated threat of gun violence by a fired employee brought police to the plant later that day. All this happened while management was discussing citations for safety violations with the California division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The violations were cited during an inspection of the facility to evaluate the company's compliance with federal safety regulations.

The inspection was carried out after an accident involving a forklift occurred. Although the company stated that the forklift operator was reckless while driving it, Cal/OSHA inspectors determined that the employee was untrained and had no certification to operate the machine. It was further found that workers were in constant danger of suffering fractured bones, blindness, chemical burns and more. In the physical assault reports, police indicated that workers had been choked, punched in the face and even bitten.

In addition to all these safety hazards, employees say they work in temperatures below 40 degrees on overcrowded floors with inadequate bathroom facilities. The likelihood of workers suffering workplace injuries under these circumstances cannot be denied. While the circumstances are unacceptable, the fact that financial assistance is available may provide some comfort. Injured workers may claim benefits from the California workers' compensation insurance program to cover medical expenses and lost income caused by work-related accidents.

Source: observer.com, "The Truth Behind Blue Apron: Violence, Health Violations and Impossible Work Demands", Sage Lazzaro, Oct. 3, 2016

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