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OSHA News Release – Region 1
U.S. Department of Labor
Region 1 04-1303-BOS /BOS 2004-193
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
For Multiple Safety Hazards at Warehouses in Three States
BOSTON, Mass. -- A mattress retailer's repeated failure to ensure quick emergency exit access for workers at its warehouse facilities in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Florida has resulted in $140,000 in fines from the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
"We must ensure that employers protect their workers from occupational hazards, so that injury and illness rates continue to decline," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "The significant fines of $140,000 proposed in this case reflect both the seriousness of the hazards found in these workplaces and the strength of this Administration's commitment to protect the safety and health of America's workers."
Mattress Giant Corp. of Addison, Texas, a retailer with 250 stores in 14 states, has been cited for a total of 18 alleged repeat and serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following OSHA inspections at warehouse distribution facilities in Manchester, N.H., Franklin, Mass., and Orlando, Fla. The inspections were conducted in response to employee complaints of blocked or locked exits at those worksites.
The inspections, conducted between March and June of this year, identified several instances in which workers could not exit swiftly in the event of an emergency because piles of mattresses and other stock blocked exit paths, aisles were too narrow, exit signage was deficient or exits were locked. OSHA cited Mattress Giant Corp in July 2001 and October 2002 for similar hazards at its Bedford, N.H., distribution facility. As a result, OSHA has issued four repeat citations - carrying $110,000 in fines - for these latest incidents.
Other hazardous conditions found during the most recent inspections include untrained and uncertified forklift operators, lack of a chemical hazard communication program and training, no fire extinguisher training, no written emergency action program, a lack of personal protective equipment, exposed live electrical parts and a fall hazard posed by a missing dockplate on a shipping platform. These conditions resulted in 14 serious citations with $30,000 in fines
"Blocked and locked exits can delay an immediate evacuation at a time when every second counts," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "It's imperative that this employer take effective steps to avert tragedy at these or any of its workplaces."
Mattress Giant Corp., has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, request and participate in an informal conference with OSHA, or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspections were conducted by OSHA area offices in Concord, N.H., Braintree, Mass., and Tampa, Fla.
OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
U.S. Labor Department (DOL) releases are accessible on the Internet at <http://www.dol.gov>. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call (202) 693-7765 or TTY (202) 693-7755. DOL is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.
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