The U.S. Department of Labor has executed a region wide corporate settlement agreement with Target Corp. to correct exit access and storage hazards and enhance worker safety at about 200 of the retailer’s stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.
Between May and December 2019, the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited eight Target locations in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York for numerous violations involving blocked or obstructed access to emergency exits and fire exit routes and/or unsafe storage of materials in stores’ backrooms and storage areas.
Target Corp. initially contested its citations, but with this settlement, it will pay $464,750 in penalties and implement enhanced actions to abate and prevent egress and storage safety issues at all Target stores in the four states over the next two years.
“Obstructed emergency exit access impedes employees’ ability to exit swiftly in the event of a fire or other emergency and unsafe storage of materials exposes employees to crushing and struck-by hazards,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Galen Blanton in Boston, Mass., in a U.S. Department of Labor press release. “Employers are responsible for supplying their employees with safe and healthful workplaces.”
Under the agreement, Target Corp. will build on its existing safety programs through the following commitments:
- Authorize stores’ management to delay incoming delivery of inventory if needed to ensure safe egress conditions;
- Authorize stores’ management to requisition additional storage capacity, such as storage trailer or offsite storage space, if needed to ensure safe egress conditions;
- Conduct surveillance camera monitoring of egress conditions at select high-risk stores;
- Have outside managers visit each store at least twice per year to monitor egress safety and address any problems;
- Arrange unannounced third-party audits of egress safety at each store at least once each year, with a second audit the next quarter if a store fails the initial audit;
- Retrain all affected employees on issues covered by settlement;
- Permit OSHA access to the stores to verify compliance with the settlement agreement and determine if cited conditions were addressed.
The Department filed a joint notification of the settlement of the New York cases with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission on October 15, 2020, and filed a joint notification of the settlement of the Massachusetts and Connecticut cases on October 16, 2020.
The settlement will become a final order 30 days after the docketing of the Administrative Law Judge’s Order Terminating Proceedings. Attorneys Daniel Hennefeld, Andrew Katz and Peter Nessen in the regional solicitor offices in Boston, Massachusetts and New York negotiated the settlement.
The OSHA area offices in Bridgeport and Hartford, Conn.; Braintree, North Andover and Springfield, Mass.; Long Island, N.Y.; and Avenel, N.J., with jurisdiction for stores located in Staten Island, N.Y.; conducted the original inspections.
“We are pleased that Target Corporation has chosen to resolve these cases by taking positive steps in worker safety, and we invite other retail employers to consider taking similar actions to protect their employees’ safety and health,” said regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey S. Rogoff in New York in the release.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor
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