16,000-Store Retailer Settles With OSHA for $1.35M
One of the largest retail chains in North America reached a corporate-wide settlement with OSHA to significantly improve workplace safety at its locations across the country, the Department of Labor has announced. The chain operates 16,000 stores in 48 states and Canada.
The $1.35 million settlement follows years of repeated health and safety enforcement actions at the retailer's stores nationwide. The chain had already signed a corporate-wide settlement in 2015 that expired in 2018.
Because the same company is responsible for each work location, many of the most common violations OSHA discovered—blocked exits, inaccessible electrical panels and fire extinguishers, and improper material storage, to name a few—could be cited as repeat violations, which carry heavier penalty assessments.
Short Term Actions
For immediate safety improvements, the settlement mandates certain issues must be corrected within 48 hours of notification and proof of correction must be submitted. This applies to future violations related to blocked exits, fire extinguisher and electrical panel access, and improper material storage.
Failure to comply with these measures will result in an OSHA inspection, enforcement actions, and $100,000 in penalties per day of violation up to $500,000.
Bigger Requirements of the Settlement
The operators agreed to pay $1.35M in penalties to settle current contested inspections and open inspections. The retailer will conduct a nationwide, comprehensive assessment of the causes of alleged violations (and repeat violations). Once causes are identified, operational corrections must be made within a two-year period.
The company must also improve its workplace safety program in the following ways:
- Create a new employee training program,
- Hire additional safety professionals,
- Enhance hazard identification and control programs,
- Form safety advisory groups with extensive employee representation,
- Develop an audit program,
- Maintain a 24-hour hotline to receive safety complaints and establish a tracking system to ensure complaints are addressed, and
- Hold quarterly meetings with OSHA to discuss systemic progress.
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