Obstructed Exits, Other Violations at Kohl's Could Cost Store $79,000

OSHA has cited Kohl's department stores in Yardley and Whitehall, Pa., for workplace safety and health hazards, proposing $79,000 in penalties. The agency 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 that 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," said Jean Kulp, director of OSHA's Allentown, Pa., 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.

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