Texas’ 99 Cent Stores Fined $121K for Safety Violations

October 3, 2012

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Commerce, Calif.-based 99 Cent Only Stores Texas Inc. with 19 serious safety and health violations at the company’s Houston distribution center. Proposed penalties total $121,000.

The alleged violations are related to process safety management, including exposing workers to anhydrous ammonia while storing frozen products in refrigeration units, OSHA said.

OSHA’s inspection was initiated as part of the agency’s national emphasis program on process safety management for covered chemical facilities.

The violations include failing to compile process safety information for instruments used as safeguards, ensure that equipment complies with recognized and good engineering practices, inspect and test equipment identified as safeguards, complete a process safety management compliance audit, develop and implement an emergency action plan, and provide guarding on elevated platforms above 4 feet.

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

99 Cent Only Stores Texas, a discount retailer, employs about 12,000 workers companywide and has operations in Arizona, California, Nevada and Texas.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA Houston North area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/99_Cents_Only_Stores_Texas_Inc_283498_0921_12.pdf*

and http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/99_Cents_Only_Stores_Inc_427511_0921_12.pdf*.