Region 2 News Release: 11-1797-NEW/BOS 2012-001
Jan. 4, 2012
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Conway Stores Inc. for locked
emergency exits and other hazards at its East Fordham Rd. store in the Bronx
Proposed fines total $90,000
NEW YORK – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Conway Stores Inc. for alleged willful, repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards at the 215-233 East Fordham Rd. store in the Bronx. The discount retailer faces a total of $90,000 in proposed fines for violations identified during an OSHA inspection begun in July by OSHA's Tarrytown Area Office.
OSHA's inspection revealed several instances where emergency exit doors in the store were padlocked during work hours and emergency exit routes were obstructed by racks of clothing and boxes of stock, conditions that would have prevented or impeded employees' swift exit of the workplace in the event of a fire or other emergency. In addition, a cardboard baler was operated with its door open exposing employees to crushing hazards; an unsecured compressed gas cylinder was exposed to damage; and the store lacked a continuing and effective extermination program for rats and vermin.
"OSHA standards clearly require that employees be able to immediately exit the workplace during an emergency," said Diana Cortez, OSHA's area director for the Bronx, Westchester and Rockland counties. "When every second counts, workers can't afford to wait until keys can be located, applied to multiple padlocks and the locks removed."
OSHA issued the store one willful citation, with a $55,000 fine, for the locked emergency exits; one repeat citation, with a $15,000 fine, for obstructed exit routes; and five serious citations with $20,000 in fines for the remaining items. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. 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. 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, the East Fordham Rd. store was cited for a similar hazard in December 2010.
"An effective illness and injury prevention program in which employers and employees work together to identify and eliminate hazards is a key safety and health resource," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.
An OSHA QuickCard™ with emergency exit route information is available online at http://www.osha.gov/Publications/3183.html.
Conway Stores has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to 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 Tarrytown Area Office at 914-524-7510.
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.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.