Region 2 News Release: 11-1263-NEW/BOS 2011-309
Sept. 6, 2011
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
US Labor Department's OSHA proposes more than $121,000 in fines
to Rite Aid of New York for hazards at Brooklyn store
NEW YORK – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Rite Aid of New York Inc. for 10 alleged repeat and serious violations of safety standards following an inspection of the retail chain's store at 6900 Fourth Ave. in Brooklyn. Rite Aid faces a total of $121,100 in proposed fines.
The inspection identified several hazardous conditions similar to those cited by OSHA during inspections of Rite Aid stores in the Bronx and Rome, N.Y., in 2007 and 2008. These conditions include an emergency exit blocked by garbage and debris, merchandise stacked in an unsafe manner, electrical panels blocked by cardboard and totes containing merchandise, an ungrounded electric power strip and employees exposed to an electrical hazard while stacking stock. As a result, OSHA cited the company for five repeat violations with $93,500 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.
Additional violations include a stairway to the basement storage room that was too steep, too narrow and lacked slip resistant treads; an 8-foot fall hazard for employees standing on the top of a ladder to store stock; boxes of merchandise used to prop open an emergency exit door; the absence of portable fire extinguishers in a basement storage room; and the lack of a working interlock to prevent a box crusher from operating while its door was open. These conditions resulted in citations for five serious violations with $27,600 in fines. 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.
"One might not think of a store as a hazardous workplace, but the fact is that these conditions expose workers to potentially deadly falls, crushing injuries, burns and electrocution, as well as the inability of workers and customers to exit swiftly in the event of a fire or other emergency," said Kay Gee, OSHA's Manhattan area director. "The sizable fines proposed here reflect both the severity of these hazards and the reality that this employer previously has been cited for similar conditions."
"For the safety and health of all its employees, the company should seek to identify such hazards at all of its locations and correct them if they exist," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. "One means of addressing and eliminating new and recurring hazards is through an illness and injury prevention program in which management and workers proactively identify and eliminate hazardous conditions on a continual basis."
The Rite Aid of New York citations are available at: http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/riteaidfinalcitations.pdf.*
Rite Aid of New York Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA 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 accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
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 materials.