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Region 3 News Release: 09-365-PHI (osha 09-35)

April 14, 2009
Contact: Leni Fortson
Phone: 215-861-5102

U.S. Department of Labor's OSHA fines Kohl's for workplace safety and health hazards at two Pennsylvania stores

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Kohl's department stores in Yardley and Whitehall, Pa., for workplace safety and health hazards, proposing $79,000 in penalties.

OSHA initiated its inspection of the Yardley store on Nov. 13, 2008, in response to a complaint. As a result of the inspection, the store has been cited for three repeat violations with a proposed penalty of $55,000, two serious violations with a $4,000 proposed penalty and one other-than-serious violation which carries no penalty. The alleged repeat violations were due to the company's failure to adequately train employees on the use of fire extinguishers, failure to maintain exit routes that were free and unobstructed, and improperly storing materials that inhibited employees from freely exiting the facility, including the work space around the electrical equipment.

OSHA's inspection of the Whitehall store, initiated on Feb. 11, 2009, resulted in a citation for one repeat violation due to the company's failure to maintain free and unobstructed exit routes. The citation carries a $20,000 proposed penalty.

"These violations are indicative of the kinds of safety and health concerns, often found at department stores, that can pose serious risk to employees, says Jean Kulp, director of OSHA's Allentown Area Office. "It is vital that both stores are aware of these hazards and take the appropriate steps to prevent them in the future.

A repeat citation is issued when a substantially similar violation is found at any of an employer's facilities in federal enforcement states within three years of a previous citation. OSHA issues a serious citation when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

Both stores have 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director in Allentown or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The investigation was conducted by OSHA's Allentown Area Office; telephone: 610-776-0592.

OSHA operates a vigorous enforcement program, conducting almost 39,000 inspections and finding nearly 88,000 violations of its standards and regulations in fiscal year 2008. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to promote the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

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U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department 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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