"These violations are indicative of the kinds of safety concerns often found at department stores that put workers at serious risk," said Patricia Jones, director of OSHA's Avenel Area Office. "This company is well aware of OSHA's safety standards and needs to take appropriate steps to prevent these violations from recurring."
The repeat violations, with $50,000 in penalties, are failing to provide adequate workspace around electrical equipment and maintain an exit route free of obstructions. The same violations were cited in January 2010 at a Loan Tree, Colo., store. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited 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 serious violations, carrying $19,000 in penalties, include failing to ensure workers had full access to exits, keep storage areas free from tripping and fire hazards, ensure that a fire extinguisher was not blocked, provide employees with training on the use of fire extinguishers and properly store materials. 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.
"By establishing an injury and illness prevention program, this company can work with its employees to identify and eliminate hazardous conditions," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.
Los Angeles-based Forever 21 Inc. employs 31 workers at the Bridgewater Mall store. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, ask for an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Avenel office at 732-750-3270.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees, OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.