Cal/OSHA Issues $256,445 in Citations to Warehouse Operators

The violations include lack of fall protection for high-rise pickers, unstable storage stacking, and unguarded machinery.

Cal/OSHA has issued $256,445 in citations to warehouse owner National Distribution Centers and its temporary staffing contractor, Tri State Staffing, for more than 60 violations at four warehouses in San Bernardino County. The violations include lack of fall protection for high-rise pickers, unstable storage stacking, and unguarded machinery.

“California law requires all employers to identify and mitigate safety risks in the workplace,” said DIR Director Christine Baker. “In the warehouse industry, low-wage workers are particularly vulnerable to unsafe working conditions where work is often hidden from public view. Hazards include moving vehicles, precariously stacked goods, and unguarded equipment.”

Cal/OSHA found a dual-employer relationship—where one employer hires workers and provides them to another employer—at three of the four warehouses inspected. In this situation, both employers are potentially liable for violations of safety and health regulations.

“When employers use a contractor for their staffing needs, they are not released from their responsibilities to provide a safe workplace,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Ellen Widess. “As dual employers sharing responsibility for training and worker safety, both National Distribution Centers and Tri State Staffing were responsible for ensuring that all employees are protected on the job.”

The warehouse inspections were prompted by complaints received from Warehouse Workers United and a worker’s heat illness injury in August of 2011.

In the latter case, Cal/OSHA found that a 49-year-old warehouse employee had become dizzy and nauseous while working in 90-degree temperatures inside the building. The employer failed to recognize the symptoms as heat-related or address conditions that led to the worker’s illness, issues that are required to be addressed in an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP).

The four warehouses cited are all in the region east of Los Angeles called the Inland Empire, which has the largest concentration of warehouses in the United States. Goods shipped through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are sent to Inland Empire warehouses for storage before being distributed throughout the country.

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