OSHA Cites Home Depot USA for Serious Hazards

Alleged violations at a Chicago store brought a proposed penalty of $110,700.

OSHA has cited Home Depot USA Inc. for six violations, including two repeat, one willful, and three serious safety violations, at its home improvement store on North Kimball Avenue in Chicago, the agency announced. The repeat and willful violations involved lack of training and maintenance for powered industrial vehicles.

"Employees at the Home Depot store used powered industrial vehicles around the clock to receive stock and transport goods to customers' vehicles. This made maintenance and operator training for these vehicles vital to employee safety," said Angeline Loftus, OSHA's area director for Chicago North. "Employers such as Home Depot have a responsibility to re-evaluate safety procedures corporate-wide. When cited for a hazard at one store, they need to ensure that all stores have incorporated the necessary safety procedures and training."

Home Depot has been cited more than 120 times nationwide in the past five years for safety and health violations at its stores, according to OSHA, which reported this specific store employs 210 workers.

OSHA opened the Jan. 27, 2014, inspection under the Local Emphasis Program for Powered Industrial Vehicles. This program was implemented to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries associated with these vehicles. The vehicles have been the involved in 105 occupational facilities during fiscal years 2005 through 2013 in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Ohio.

OSHA issued one willful violation for failing to remove from service a powered industrial truck in need of repair. A repeat violation was issued for failing to evaluate forklift operators' performance at least once every three years. A second repeat violation was issued for failing to perform shift-by-shift inspections of forklifts.

Three serious violations were issued for exposing workers to chemical burns from sulfuric acid by failing to require the use of eye, face and hand protection when adding water or checking water levels in powered industrial vehicle batteries. Home Depot also allegedly failed to provide an eyewash station for immediate emergency use for employees exposed to injurious corrosive materials while working with industrial batteries.

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