Atlanta hotel fined after worker freezes to death

Carolyn Robinson died slow and alone in the depths of a downtown Atlanta hotel kitchen, and for that her former employer must pay a $12,000 fine.

The 61-year-old East Point woman was found dead in a walk-in freezer last March at the Westin Peachtree Plaza. A video showed her entering the freezer in the lower-level kitchen the evening before.

Police didn’t suspect foul play. Such freezers are supposed to have safety devices that allow anyone inside to escape, and police said at the time that this freezer had an exit mechanism and evidence indicated Robinson tried to use it.

Half a year later, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has concluded that the hotel violated the federal worker safety act and must pay a fine. The penalty for a “serious” violation that led to a worker freezing to death: $12,471. That’s according to a Citation and Notification of Penalty issued Sept. 13 and provided to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by the U.S. Department of Labor on Tuesday.

The citation says the deceased was exposed to “entrapment hazards” while working in freezer number 11 and that the employer failed to ensure the exit door remained “unobstructed/unrestricted.”

The AJC is attempting to reach the company for comment.

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