Toys R Us Charged with Repeat Hazards, $69K in Proposed Penalties

OSHA has proposed $69,000 in fines against Toys R Us for 10 alleged repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards following an inspection at one of the toy retailer's stores in Brooklyn, N.Y. The agency's inspection found hazards that could impede the swift exit of workers from the store in the event of a fire or other emergency. These included obstructed exit access, missing or defective exit doors, an exit door that was painted over and could not be opened, improper or inadequate exit signage, employees not trained in fire extinguisher use, and all fire extinguishers not kept in their required locations.

"It is vital that emergency exit routes be available and properly marked at all times," said Kay Gee, OSHA's acting area director in Manhattan. "There can be no delay in exiting a workplace during a fire or other emergency when the difference between escape and injury or death can be measured in seconds."

The store also has been cited for damaged storage racks that were prone to collapse, aisles not kept clear for mechanical handling equipment, an inadequately covered floor hole, and failure to certify that workers had been trained in the proper operation of motorized hand trucks.

OSHA has issued the retailer three repeat citations with $50,000 in proposed fines, for the obstructed exit route, blocked aisle and damaged storage racks, as it had cited the company in 2006 and 2007 for similar hazards at stores in Parma, Ohio, and Watchung, N.J. Seven serious citations with $19,000 in fines have been issued for the remaining items. 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.

Toys R Us has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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