Region 2 News Release: 11-741-NEW/BOS 2011-183
May 23, 2011
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
US Labor Department's OSHA cites Rite Aid Pharmacy for blocked
emergency exits at Brooklyn, NY, store; proposes $60,500 fine
NEW YORK – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Rite Aid Pharmacy for one alleged willful violation of workplace safety standards relating to blocked emergency exits at the chain's store located at 16321-43 Pitkin Ave. in Brooklyn. The agency has proposed a $60,500 fine.
On Nov. 30, 2010, an OSHA inspector found two of the store's emergency exits blocked by filled totes and wooden crates, and informed management that the exits must not be blocked. Upon returning to the store on Dec. 2, the inspector observed one of the exits blocked again, this time by boxes and a hand truck.
"The sizable fine proposed here reflects both the seriousness of this hazard and management's knowledge of its existence," said Kay Gee, OSHA's area director for Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. "There is nothing arcane or complex about the need for clear and immediate access to exits in the event of a fire or other emergency. An obstructed exit can delay evacuation at a time when every second counts and workers' lives and well-being are at risk."
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.
"One means of addressing and eliminating such hazards is by establishing and maintaining an effective illness and injury prevention program, through which management and workers proactively identify and eliminate hazardous conditions on a continual basis," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.
Rite Aid Pharmacy has 15 business days from receipt of the citation and proposed penalty to comply, meet with the OSHA area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. This inspection was conducted by OSHA's Manhattan Area Office; telephone 212-620-3200. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
An OSHA fact sheet about emergency exit routes is available online at http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/emergency-exit-routes-factsheet.pdf*.
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.
* Accessibility Assistance Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF documents.