During the process, seven separate OSHA inspections took place, from April 28 through June 3, 2022, in across several locations: Clay, Dothan, Odenville, and Town Creek, Alabama; Darien and West Point, Georgia; and Panama City Beach, Florida.
31 violations similar to those found at other stores (where litigation is currently pending) were identified. Violations issued as the result of the inspections have qualified the retailer for inclusion in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP).
Inspectors cited the retailer for 11 willful, 16 repeat and four serious violations at the seven Southeast locations. In addition to the struck-by and blocked-exit hazards, OSHA cited the company for:
- Failing to label, mount, or make fire extinguishers accessible.
- Storing boxes in front of electrical panels, increasing the risk of fire and electrical hazards.
- Failing to use exit signs to facilitate safe egress in the event of an emergency.
- Exposing workers to electrocution by not keeping unused openings in electrical cabinets closed.
- Not providing handrails on stairs where required.
Let’s take a look at how things escalated to this point, and what the future might hold in store
A Retail Chain with a History of Fines
Based in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, the well-known retailer operates approx. 18,000 stores & 17 distribution centers across 47 states, and employs more than 150,000 workers.
But, since 2017, the retail store chain has received more than $12.3 million in penalties for numerous willful, repeat, and serious workplace safety violations.
During the course of the past five years & over 180 inspections at various locations, OSHA discovered unsafe conditions exposing workers to the possibility of being struck by falling boxes of merchandise or unable to exit the store safely in a case of a fire emergency.
The retailer now has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
However, their removal from the Severe Violator Enforcement Program might take a little longer.
Employers can be potentially removed from the list after at least three years have passed from the date OSHA receives verification that all SVEP-related hazards have been abated. All final penalties must be paid, and the sites involved must have passed a follow-up or referral inspection, according to the directive.
Related Article: Breaking Down the On-Site OSHA Inspection Process
OSHA’s Fire Safety Standard and Protecting Your Workers
Worthy of note in this incident are the recurrent fire safety violations cited at a variety of locations.
In order to keep your team safe from harm and your business out of trouble, it’s worth noting a few key requirements.
OSHA requires employers to implement several fire protection and prevention programs in the workplace.
- Employers are expected to provide, label, mount, or make fire extinguishers accessible; 1910.157.
- Emergency exits should be clearly indicated, to facilitate easy exit in the event of a fire incident; 1910.36.
You can read more on OSHA’s fire safety standards here.
*** About Worksite Medical
In most cases, OSHA requires medical surveillance testing, and at no cost to employees. Worksite Medical makes that program easier with mobile medical testing. We conduct on-site respirator fit tests, as well as audiometric exams, pulmonary function tests and heavy metal lab work, right on your job site. We also keep accurate, easy-to-access medical records for your convenience.
You’ll keep your employees at work, and stay ahead of OSHA inspections.