Six-figure fines for retail stores have become common under the current Occupational Safety and Health Administration for things like blocked exits and badly stacked boxes. There is a growing focus of inspections on repeat violations across all industries.
Attorneys representing retailers in appeals of such citations question how the agency applies its definition of ‘‘repeat’’ and whether the citations protect workers from the predominant safety and health hazard of retail work— musculoskeletal injuries such as strains from lifting. Many aspects such as sales volume, different store layouts, employee turnover, and staff demographics vary across stores with the same ownership, and many of these things are not factored in repeat citations.
Attorney Howard Sokol summed up his objection to OSHA’s use of repeat violations to cite chain stores by asking, ‘‘How would someone in Brooklyn know what had happened in Springfield, Pa., five years earlier?’’
Reproduced with permission from Occupational Safety & Health Reporter, 44 OSHR 955 (Oct. 9, 2014). Copyright 2014. by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800.372.1033) http://www.bna.com
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