Home Depot Cited for Recurring Chemical Hazards in NY

OSHA has proposed $112,000 in fines against Home Depot USA Inc., chiefly for failing to correct hazards previously cited at the retail chain's store in West Nyack, N.Y.

"These sizable fines stem from Home Depot's failure to correct specific hazards, as well as allowing other hazards to occur repeatedly," said Diana Cortez, OSHA's area director in Tarrytown, N.Y. "We will neither accept nor tolerate employers' repeated failures to correct hazardous conditions."

OSHA cited the store in September 2008 for failing to provide suitable emergency drenching facilities for employees who might be splashed with hazardous chemicals, and for not providing required information and training to employees whose duties involve potential exposure to methylene chloride. The case was settled in February 2009 and the company was expected to submit proof of abatement to OSHA. When Home Depot failed to respond to multiple requests for the information, OSHA began a follow-up inspection.

The new inspection found that workers in the store's painting and plumbing departments still lacked suitable emergency drenching facilities and methylene chloride information and training. These uncorrected conditions prompted OSHA to issue Home Depot two notices of failure to abate, carrying $82,500 in proposed fines. OSHA issues notices of failure to abate when an employer fails to correct previously cited hazards.

The follow-up inspection also found a similar hazard, lack of quick drenching facilities, for workers in the cleaning supply department and the garden department's pool supply area. For this recurring hazard, OSHA issued the store one repeat citation with a $25,000 fine. Finally, the store was issued two serious citations with $4,500 in fines, for failing to store incompatible chemicals separately, thus exposing workers to potential inhalation of chlorine gas should the chemicals be accidentally mixed, and for not providing safety goggles to workers. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

Home Depot has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, meet with OSHA, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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