US Labor Department's OSHA cites Commerce, Calif.-based 99 Cent Only
Stores Texas with multiple serious violations at Houston facility
HOUSTON – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Commerce, Calif.-based 99 Cent Only Stores Texas Inc. with 19 serious safety and health violations at the company's Houston distribution center that are related to process safety management, including exposing workers to anhydrous ammonia while storing frozen products in refrigeration units. OSHA's inspection was initiated as part of the agency's national emphasis program on process safety management for covered chemical facilities. Proposed penalties total $121,000.
"Process safety management prevents the unexpected release of toxic, reactive or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals," said David Doucet, director of OSHA's Houston North Area Office. "Anhydrous ammonia is used in industrial refrigeration systems to keep things like food products cold, and a release of the chemical can expose workers to extreme lung, eye and skin irritation, and potential burns."
The violations include failing to compile process safety information for instruments used as safeguards, ensure that equipment complies with recognized and good engineering practices, inspect and test equipment identified as safeguards, complete a process safety management compliance audit, develop and implement an emergency action plan, and provide guarding on elevated platforms above 4 feet. 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.
The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/99_Cents_Only_Stores_Texas_Inc_283498_0921_12.pdf*
Detailed information on process safety management is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/processsafetymanagement/index.html.
99 Cent Only Stores Texas, a discount retailer, employs about 12,000 workers companywide and has operations in Arizona, California, Nevada and Texas. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA Houston North 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), the agency's Houston North office at 281-591-2438 or its Houston South office at 281-286-0583.
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 or CD 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.