OSHA found that emergency exit access from a receiving and storage area was obstructed by the storage of pallets containing merchandise and equipment, and employees were not able to safely operate pallet jacks in aisles and passageways that were obstructed by stacked merchandise. In addition, portable fire extinguishers were not mounted and located in safely accessible areas, and the lack of a protective fitting and strain relief for an electrical conduit entering a control box presented an electrical hazard.
These conditions resulted in the issuance of citations with $48,200 in proposed fines for three repeat violations. 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. In this case, OSHA had previously cited Wal-Mart for similar hazards at stores in Newington, Conn.; Chelmsford and West Boylston, Mass.; Centralia and Joliet, Ill.; Coshocton, Ohio; and Lewisville, Texas.
"The recurring nature of these hazards is disturbing and needs to be effectively addressed," said Kimberly Castillon, OSHA's area director in Albany. "An employer with multiple locations, such as Wal-Mart, needs to ensure that hazards are identified, corrected and prevented at all of its workplaces."
Additionally, a citation with a $4,400 fine has been issued for a serious violation involving a lack of eye, face and hand protection as well as safety training for employees operating cardboard balers. 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.
"One step an employer can take to protect its workers against on-the-job hazards is to develop and maintain an effective illness and injury prevention program in which management and employees work together to proactively identify and prevent hazardous conditions," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.
Arkansas-based Wal-Mart has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings 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 Albany office at 518-464-4338.
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.