Two companies in the metropolitan New York area have been cited and fined for safety violations involving blocked emergency exit routes, among other safety violations. Between the two companies, the fines average out to $77,500 each.
Duane Reade Inc., a Walgreens subsidiary, located at 598 Broadway in lower Manhattan, NY was fined $71,500 for exit access and fire safety hazards.
“Finding hazards at one location is of serious concern; hazards replicated at an employer’s other work sites indicates a disturbing pattern,” said Kay Gee, OSHA’s area director for Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. “Duane Reade must take effective steps to identify and eliminate such hazards—not just here, but at all its stores. It’s a wise investment in the safety and well-being of company workers that all employers with multiple work sites should undertake.”
OSHA’s Manhattan Area Office opened its inspection on May 10 in response to a complaint about blocked exits. OSHA found that an emergency exit door, sprinkler system heads and an electrical panel in the store were all blocked or obstructed by piles of boxes and crates of merchandise.
In the event of a fire or other emergency, these blockages would obstruct swift exits, negate the sprinklers’ function of extinguishing a fire and increase the potential of an electrical fire if workers could not access the electrical panel to disconnect the power.
Duane Reade Inc., a subsidiary of the Illinois-based Walgreen Co., operates a chain of 250 pharmacies and convenience stores in the greater New York City area. It has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Idea Nuova, a Manhattan and Brooklyn based home goods store was fined $82,800 for 22 violations of workplace safety standards. Citations include 19 serious violations totaling $81,000 in fines, and 3 non-serious violations totaling $1,800.
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.
At the Manhattan location, an emergency exit door was stuck in its frame and needed to be forced open; exit route signs were missing; a restroom lacked hot, running water; access to fire extinguishers were blocked; and employees were not trained to use fire extinguishers. In Brooklyn, aisles were blocked and material was stocked too close to sprinkler heads, floor holes were uncovered, employees were exposed to live electrical parts and powered industrial truck operators did not receive required refresher training.
“Left uncorrected, the conditions found at these workplaces exposes employees to the hazards of fire, electric shock, struck-by injuries and the inability to exit swiftly and safely in the event of a fire or other emergency,” said Kay Gee, OSHA’s area director for Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. “Prompt, effective and ongoing corrective action by this employer is necessary to guard the safety and well-being of its employees.”
Idea Nuova has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.