Creating safety hazards for employees can oftentimes lead to injuries and also fines for those not overseeing worker protections.
Piled boxes at dangerous heights and blocked exit routes were two of the hazards found at the Houston location of the national discount retailer Dollar Tree Stores Inc.
The hazards, both of which led to repeated citations, were found during an investigation by U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors.
OSHA proposed $116,200 in penalties for two repeated and four serious violations at the West Gray Street store. Across the nation, Dollar Tree Stores have been cited for more than 200 safety and health violations since 2009.
“It’s too easy for workers to get crushed under haphazardly stacked boxes, or trapped when exits are blocked,” said Mark Briggs, OSHA’s area director in the Houston South office. “Hazards like these put worker safety in jeopardy, and failing to correct them is unacceptable.”
Complaint Alleged Block Exits in Workplace
OSHA’s November 2014 inspection of the Houston store was prompted by a complaint that alleged blocked exits in the workplace.
Two repeated violations, with a penalty of $103,000, were cited for failure to ensure that exit doors were kept clear and unobstructed and that boxes were stored securely. A repeated violation exists when an employer has been cited previously for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.
The four serious violations, with a penalty of $13,200, were for failing to clearly mark doorways along exit routes; failing to place valve protection caps on compressed helium cylinders; not training workers on fire extinguisher use; and not providing clear access to the breaker box. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
In the second half of 2014, OSHA cited Dollar Tree Stores nationwide for more than $900,000 in fines.
The Watauga, Texas, store was cited in September 2014 for two willful and three repeated violations, with a penalty of $262,500.
The company was provided with 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area office, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Author Kori Shafer-Stack, Editor, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in post-injury response procedures and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: email@example.com.
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