With the holiday shopping season in full swing, this piece I discovered seemed timely. Eyewitness News Reporter Crystal Cranmore at WBRE/WYOU in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania offered some starting insights into some hazards retail employees face during this festive season. See it here: http://www.pahomepage.com/news/keeping-employees-safe-during-the-holidays/615760593
Despite attentive customer service, the bustle of holiday shopping can translate into unique safety concerns for retailers. This has prompted OSHA (the U.S. Department of Labor Occupation Safety and Health Administration) to launch a comprehensive program examining retail worker safety. The agency’s Regional Emphasis Program for the Retail Industry will specifically target retailers who aren’t following procedures for proper exits, material handling, safe storage, and electrical hazards.
Mark Stelmack, Area Director of Wiles-Barre OSHA, stated “we are ramping up our enforcement efforts because during the holidays a lot of those stock rooms get more crowded with inventory.” Violations like this put both customers and employees at risk and if found guilty, business in violation could face up to six-figure fines.
Per Richard Mendelson, OSHA’s Regional Administrator in Philadelphia, “… some of the nation’s leading retailers – have a long history of leaving workers vulnerable to unnecessary hazards that can cause injuries and possibly death. Our initiative seeks to ensure that retail employers are fulfilling their responsibilities and keeping workers safe from common, and easily correctable, hazards such as blocked exits and storing merchandise in unsafe manners. A busy season is no excuse for ignoring safety.”
Across the county, OSHA has levied more than $1M in total fines to employers in the retail store industry. Widely known chains have repeatedly been cited for hazards that include dangerously stacked boxes in storerooms, blocked exits, as well as fire and electrical hazards which pose significant risk to employees.
In Philadelphia alone, inspectors have conducted 313 inspections of retail establishments, with 191 of the inspections resulting in citations since 2013.
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