OSHA cites Duane Reade Inc., proposes $71,500 in fines for exit access and fire
safety hazards at 598 Broadway store in lower Manhattan
Drugstore chain cited earlier for similar hazards at E. 14th St. store
NEW YORK – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Duane Reade Inc. for exit access and fire safety hazards at its 598 Broadway store in lower Manhattan. Similar conditions were cited during a 2008 OSHA inspection of the drugstore chain's 24 E. 14th St. store.
As a result of the recurring hazards, OSHA has issued the company three repeat citations, with a total of $71,500 in proposed fines. 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.
"Finding hazards at one location is of serious concern; hazards replicated at an employer's other work sites indicates a disturbing pattern," said Kay Gee, OSHA's area director for Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. "Duane Reade must take effective steps to identify and eliminate such hazards¿not just here, but at all its stores. It's a wise investment in the safety and well-being of company workers that all employers with multiple work sites should undertake."
OSHA's Manhattan Area Office opened its inspection on May 10 in response to a complaint about blocked exits. OSHA found that an emergency exit door, sprinkler system heads and an electrical panel in the store were all blocked or obstructed by piles of boxes and crates of merchandise.
In the event of a fire or other emergency, these blockages would obstruct swift exits, negate the sprinklers' function of extinguishing a fire and increase the potential of an electrical fire if workers could not access the electrical panel to disconnect the power.
Duane Reade Inc., a subsidiary of the Illinois-based Walgreen Co., 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 http://www.osha.gov.
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