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March 9, 2016 BOS 2016-057

Blocked emergency exit, improperly stored stock pose hazards
for Guess? store employees at Foxwoods Casino
Retailer faces $65K in OSHA penalties for 'obvious and easily preventable' risks

HARTFORD, Conn. - A blocked emergency exit and improperly stored stock put the employees of the Guess? Factory Store at the Tanger Outlet Mall at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket at risk of burns, lacerations and being struck by falling objects, an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has found.

Responding to a complaint, OSHA began an inspection on March 3, 2016, and found the employer allowed the following hazardous conditions:

  • Obstruction of the store's emergency exit route by boxes containing clothes, shoes and hangers, as well as by a folding table.
  • Blocked access to electrical panels that power the store's operations by several boxes of clothing and hangers, eight storage shelves and two extension ladders.
  • Unsafe stacking of boxes of hangers, shoes and accessories in the storage room and in the bathroom were in danger of toppling onto employees.

"These were obvious and easily preventable conditions that placed store employees needlessly at risk," said Warren Simpson, OSHA's area director in Hartford. "Overstocking and improper stocking of goods prevents employees from exiting* the workplace swiftly and safely in the event of a fire or other emergency. This is not the first time that Guess? has been cited for blocked access. To ensure the well-being of its employees, Guess? must effectively address these issues at all its locations."

OSHA has cited Guess? for two repeat violations, one serious violation and one other than serious violation of workplace safety standards and proposed fines totaling $65,000. The repeat violations stem from similar violations cited in 2013 at the Guess? Jersey Gardens Mall store in Linden, New Jersey. The other-than-serious violation is for the Foxwoods store's failure to post a notice* informing employees of their rights to a safe and healthful workplace and to contact OSHA with questions and concerns.

Los Angeles-based Guess? 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.

Guess? designs, markets, distributes and licenses a lifestyle collection of contemporary apparel, denim, handbags, watches, footwear and other related consumer products. As of Jan. 30, 2016, the company directly operated 835 retail stores in the Americas, Europe and Asia. The company's licensees and distributors operated 804 additional retail stores worldwide.

The citations can be viewed here*.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, 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 Hartford office at 860-240-3152.

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.

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Media Contact:

Ted Fitzgerald, 617-565-2075 fitzgerald.edmund@dol.gov

Release Number: 16-671-BOS


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