N.Y. Wal-Mart Faces $52,600 in Fines for Storage-Area Hazards

OSHA found that emergency exit access from a receiving and storage area was obstructed by the storage of pallets containing merchandise and equipment.

OSHA has cited Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for alleged repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards at the Wal-Mart Super Center store located in Cobleskill, N.Y. The retailer faces a total of $52,600 in proposed fines following inspections by OSHA's Albany, N.Y., Area Office.

OSHA found that emergency exit access from a receiving and storage area was obstructed by the storage of pallets containing merchandise and equipment and employees were not able to safely operate pallet jacks in aisles and passageways that were obstructed by stacked merchandise. In addition, portable fire extinguishers were not mounted and located in safely accessible areas and the lack of a protective fitting and strain relief for an electrical conduit entering a control box presented an electrical hazard.

These conditions resulted in the issuance of citations with $48,200 in proposed fines for three repeat violations. In this case, OSHA had previously cited Wal-Mart for similar hazards at stores in Newington, Conn.; Chelmsford and West Boylston, Mass.; Centralia and Joliet, Ill.; Coshocton, Ohio; and Lewisville, Texas.

"The recurring nature of these hazards is disturbing and needs to be effectively addressed," said Kimberly Castillon, OSHA's area director in Albany. "An employer with multiple locations, such as Wal-Mart, needs to ensure that hazards are identified, corrected, and prevented at all of its workplaces."

Additionally, a citation with a $4,400 fine has been issued for a serious violation involving a lack of eye, face, and hand protection as well as safety training for employees operating cardboard balers.

"One step an employer can take to protect its workers against on-the-job hazards is to develop and maintain an effective illness and injury prevention program in which management and employees work together to proactively identify and prevent hazardous conditions," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

Wal-Mart told Albany-based FOX23 News it is committed to giving associates a safe working environment and that it has placed additional resources in the store to address areas of concern.

The company has contested the matter and said it is working with OSHA to reach a resolution.

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