Wal-Mart fined for safety violations (updated)

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 144 views 

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. agreed to improve the safety conditions in 2,857 U.S. Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores following health hazards uncovered by the federal inspectors during a routine safety audit in 2011.

The settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor announced today (Aug. 7) resolves two enforcement cases that began in 2011, and includes provisions for the Bentonville-based retailer to enhance safety and health practices and training related to trash compactors, cleaning chemicals and hazard communications

The retail giant has also agreed to pay a $190,000 fine to fix hazards discovered during an Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspection at a store in Rochester, N.Y.

“This settlement will help to keep thousands of exposed Wal-Mart workers safe and healthy on the job,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “We hope this sends a strong message that the law requires employers to provide safe working conditions, and OSHA will use all the tools at our disposal to ensure that all employers follow the law.”

Under the settlement, trash compactors must remain locked while not in use, and may not be operated except under the supervision of a trained manager or other trained, designated monitor.

The assessed fine relates to safety citations pertinent to the corporate-wide trash compactor abatement, the settlement affirms one repeat lockout/tagout citation, two serious lockout/tagout citations, two serious confined space citations, and one serious machine guarding citation.

"We have long-standing policies and training requirements in our stores designed to ensure the safety of our associates. When we learned of concerns raised by OSHA at our Rochester, N.Y. store in 2011, we immediately addressed them and reinforced the company’s guidelines. We will continue providing training to our associates nationwide, including addressing the areas outlined in the settlement. We are pleased this resolves the issues that were raised," said Randy Hargrove, corporate spokesman at Wal-Mart.

According to the settlement, Wal-Mart agreed to improve its hazard communications training; and, for cleaning chemicals, will enhance its procedures to ensure that employees do not handle undiluted chemicals. Also, the company must ensure that a protective protocol is in place in case of any malfunctions with a store’s cleaning chemicals dispensing equipment.

Other citations affirmed in the settlement include one repeat electrical hazard citation, one serious citation for obstructed exit routes, two serious machine guarding citations, one repeat other-than-serious platform fall hazard citation, and 11 serious bloodborne pathogens citations.

A summary of the agreement will be posted in each affected store.
 The settlement agreement can be viewed here.