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OSHA News Release
Region 2

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Feb. 26, 2015BOS 2015-035

Duane Reade Manhattan 6th Avenue store exposes employees to
fire and crushing hazards from blocked exits and carelessly piled stock
Retailer faces $77,400 in fines for 'top-to-bottom' hazards

NEW YORK – Employees of a Duane Reade store on 6th Avenue in Manhattan would have been unable to exit the store swiftly and safely in the event of a fire or other emergency, a September 2014 inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found. As a result, OSHA has cited the company for one repeated and four serious violations of workplace safety standards. The retailer faces $77,400 in proposed fines.

Inspectors found that three emergency exit routes* from the store's basement were blocked by boxes, crates, garbage bags and merchandise stored or strewn in aisles and passageways. The emergency exit lights were not illuminated, and one exit was not marked.

OSHA We Can Help. An emergency exit route should not be an obstacle course. Kay Gee, OSHA area director

"An exit route should not be an obstacle course. Seconds count during a fire or other emergency. These obstructions steal away precious moments employees could use to save themselves," said Kay Gee, OSHA's area director in Manhattan. "This is especially troubling because we cited Duane Reade in 2013 for similar hazards at its 598 Broadway store in Lower Manhattan."

OSHA's inspection of the Duane Reade Inc. store #14108 at 1150 6th Ave. came in response to an employee complaint about obstructed exits. Inspectors also found that boxes of merchandise and inventory in the store's second- floor stockroom were unsafely stacked in 10- to 12-foot piles that could tip, slide or collapse, striking or crushing workers.

A repeated 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. 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.

"These hazards from top to bottom, so they don't occur again here or at any other Duane Reade store. The lives and well-being of employees depend on it," Gee said.

A subsidiary of Illinois-based Walgreen Co., Duane Reade operates a chain of 250 pharmacies and convenience stores in the greater New York City area. It 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 Manhattan Area Office at 212-620-3200.

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


Media Contacts:

Ted Fitzgerald, 617-565-2075,
Andre J. Bowser, 617-565-2074,

Release Number: 15-218-NEW

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