May 26, 2015BOS 2015-107
Conway Stores again locks emergency exits at Bronx stores
Clothing retailer cited for same hazard in 2011, faces more than $80K in OSHA fines
TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – A blocked or obstructed exit route can be the difference between life and death. Despite the clear risks, Conway Stores' Bronx location jeopardized workers and shoppers despite two warnings from federal safety inspectors in December 2014.
U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors first found four emergency exit doors locked with metal bars at 2952 Third Ave. During the Dec. 5, 2014, inspection, they also identified two exit routes with no lighting and one exit route blocked by a wooden cabinet. Store managers were told to correct the violations. When inspectors returned on Dec. 22, the four emergency exits were still locked.
"The point is simple and the requirement is clear. In an emergency, no one has time to find and unlock an emergency exit. Seconds wasted can hurt people or cost them their lives," said Diana Cortez, OSHA's Tarrytown area director. "Conway Stores chose to ignore the safety and well-being of its employees and customers. This is not the first time. It must be the last."
In 2011, Conway was cited by OSHA when the same hazard was discovered at another Bronx store at 215-223 Fordham Road. Workplace safety standards* require that employees be able to open an exit route door from the inside without using keys or tools.
OSHA cited the store's parent company, Southern Island Stores LLC, in Gardena, California, for one serious and one willful violation for the locked exits, and three serious violations for the remaining hazards. Among these hazards was an ineffective extermination program, which exposed workers to rodents. Proposed fines total $80,300.
The company 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.
An OSHA QuickCard™ with emergency exit route information is available online.
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.
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Release Number: 15-851-NEW
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