OSHA Turns up the Heat on Retailers

Vol. 107 | January 13, 2017

While retailers have generally experienced a very low rate of employee injuries, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has stepped up inspections and enforcement against retailers in recent years for safety violations, and has issued six-plus figure fines to many retailers this year.

Of particular concern to national retailers, the agency may inspect multiple stores across many states to establish a pattern of non-compliance that could result in very large fines, even where no injuries have occurred. Once retailers get cited at one store the floodgates can open for additional inspections and citations.

The violations most commonly involve stockrooms where exits or electrical panels are blocked by merchandise, lack of proper access aisles, improper marking and sealing of electrical panels, and slip/trip/fall hazards.

Retailers should take the following steps to protect themselves from potential citations:

  • Provide training for stockroom safety basics to every worker
  • Designate a responsible safety officer for every location and shift (not the manager)
  • Establish an internal and/or external safety auditing program
  • Provide regular safety briefings to employees to remind them of requirements
  • Include a safety metric requirement in the bonus structure for local managers

Intertek-PSI can assist retailers to develop and implement a safety auditing and training programs. We also conduct third party safety audits and work with retailers to identify and correct recurring issues.

Steve Long, P.E., P.G.
Principal-in-Charge, Environmental Services

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Related topics: 2017 | Environmental | Industry News