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Sysco contests citation following employee fatality

By Shavonne Potts
spotts@salisburypost.com
CONCORD ó A Concord company is contesting citations it received from the North Carolina Department of Labor following an investigation into the death of an employee there.
The labor department cited Sysco Guest Supply Inc. in early June with four alleged serious violations. The penalty for the violations totaled $12,550.
The company requested an independent review.
Gary Donald Merrington, 47, was killed when he fell 19 feet from a storage rack at the company in late March. He was trying to stabilize a pallet of paper napkins.
The N.C. Department of Laborís Occupational Safety and Health Division opened an investigation to determine the cause of the accident.
Merrington was a warehouse supervisor at the company, which supplies lodging and hospitality products. He worked at the company for nearly seven years.
The violations dealt with riding the forks of a forklift, working in the racks without fall protection, leaving the forklift unattended with the forks elevated and failure to re-evaluate forklift operator performance every three years.
In June, company representatives met for an informal conference to discuss the citations, at which time they could have paid the penalties or contested the citations.
During the conference the company could also present any questions, problems or concerns, evidence and verification that it has fixed the violations.
No decision was made during the conference, confirmed Dolores Quesenberry, director of communications with the state Department of Labor.
After the informal conference was held, the OSH Division presented a settlement agreement to the company.
ěThe company had the option to sign the informal settlement agreement or the company could file a notice of contest with the OSH Review Commission. The company chose the latter option,î she said.
The Commission is an independent board appointed by the governor to hear appeals.
Since Sysco contested the citations, the case is still open and will go before the Review Commission.
ěThe OSH Review Commission will hear the case and make a determination,î Quesenberry said.
ěMany times the case is settled after going through the informal conference, but not always,î she said.
The Commission will schedule a hearing.
ěThe hearing will more than likely be scheduled within the first 90 days,î she said.
After a date is set, it could still take months for an outcome to be reached.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.

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