Sears Faces $128K Fine for Blocked Exits, Unstable Merchandise Racks

"The managers of Sears, Roebuck and Co. repeatedly have demonstrated a disregard for their employees' safety by failing to correct workplace hazards that previously were brought to their attention," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's area director in Birmingham, Ala.

OSHA has cited Sears, Roebuck and Co. for seven safety violations found during an inspection of the company's department store in Huntsville, Ala., including exposing workers to blocked exits, among other hazards. Proposed penalties total $128,000.

Three repeat violations with $110,000 in penalties involve blocking exit access with retail material and equipment, failing to post signs along exit routes, and failing to repair damaged racks that caused stored merchandise to be unstable. Company locations in New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania were cited for the same or similar violations in 2007, 2009, and 2010, respectively.

Three serious violations with $18,000 in proposed penalties have been cited for failing to provide an adequate number of exits in a stockroom, properly mark a door with a "not an exit" sign, and dispose promptly of flammable waste.

The company also has been cited for one other-than-serious violation with no monetary penalty for failing to provide a list of hazardous materials for its hazard communication program.

"The managers of Sears, Roebuck and Co. repeatedly have demonstrated a disregard for their employees' safety by failing to correct workplace hazards that previously were brought to their attention," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's area director in Birmingham, Ala. "Employers are responsible for ensuring that their employees have a safety and healthful work environment."

Sears, Roebuck and Co., a retailer with more than 4,000 full-line and specialty retail stores, is a division of Sears Holding Corp. in Hoffman Estates, Ill.

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