This article was originally posted at some time between 2015 and September, 2020. It is being re-posted now as part of our website reconstruction. Some of the dates mentioned in this article may reference the time period from which it was originally posted.
Safety consultants in MN and everywhere else see a lot of OSHA citations, and they start to see patterns and trends in OSHA enforcement. One trend that I’ve noticed is that OSHA doesn’t pay much attention to retail. I haven’t provided safety consulting to many retailers, because they frequently don’t have safety needs that justify the expense. But the retail environment does pose some serious risks. If you’ve ever been in the back room of a retail store, you probably know what I mean. Boxes are usually stacked everywhere, from floor to ceiling, etc.
But despite the lack of enforcement, retailers are not exempt from the rules. They must comply like everyone else. A “Guess?” store in Mashantucket, CT has learned that the hard way. After a March, 2016 inspection, the store was fined $65,000 for several serious, and “repeated” violations. Cited hazards include; unsafe storage of materials ($4,000), blocked emergency exits ($35,000), blocked electrical service panels ($25,000) and failing to post the mandatory OSHA poster ($1,000).
The inspection was prompted by an employee complaint.
OSHA may issue “repeat” violations and increase fines accordingly, if identical or significantly similar violations are found at the same employer within three years of each other, even if they occur at different locations. In this case, the repeat violations stem from similar or identical violations cited in 2013 at the “Guess?” Jersey Gardens Mall store in Linden, N.J.
“These were obvious and easily preventable conditions that placed store employees needlessly at risk,” Warren Simpson, OSHA’s area director in Hartford, said in a release. “Overstocking and improper stocking of goods prevents employees from exiting the workplace swiftly and safely in the event of a fire or other emergency. This is not the first time that Guess? has been cited for blocked access. To ensure the well-being of its employees, Guess? must effectively address these issues at all its locations.”
You can view the actual citation here.
The moral of the story; there are very few industries that are exempt from OSHA enforcement. Always work with a qualified safety consultant or OSHA compliance consultant to determine what OSHA regulations apply to your operation.