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Target Agrees to Pay $465K Penalty, Fix OSHA Violations at 200 Stores

Hundreds of Target stores were taken to task for safety violations but the mass merchant is taking steps to put things right.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has executed a regionwide corporate settlement agreement with Target Corp. to correct exit access and storage hazards, and enhance worker safety at about 200 of the company’s stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

Between May and December last year, DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited eight Target locations in the Northeast for numerous violations including blocked or obstructed access to emergency exits and fire exit routes or unsafe storage of materials in the stores’ backrooms and storage areas.

Target initially contested its citations, but with this settlement, it will pay $464,750 in penalties and implement enhanced actions to abate and prevent egress and storage safety issues at all its stores in the four states over the next two years.

“Obstructed emergency exit access impedes employees’ ability to exit swiftly in the event of a fire or other emergency and unsafe storage of materials exposes employees to crushing and struck-by hazards,”said Galen Blanton, OSHA regional administrator in Boston. “Employers are responsible for supplying their employees with safe and healthful workplaces.”

Under the agreement, Target will build on its existing safety programs through several commitments. It will authorize store management to delay incoming delivery of inventory if needed to ensure safe egress conditions and authorize store management to requisition additional storage capacity, such as storage trailers or offsite storage space, if needed to ensure safe egress conditions.

Target will also conduct surveillance camera monitoring of egress conditions at select “high-risk” stores,” have outside managers visit each store at least twice per year to monitor egress safety and address any problems, and arrange unannounced third-party audits of egress safety at each store at least once each year, with a second audit in the next quarter if a store fails the initial audit. In addition, the company will retrain all affected employees on issues covered by the settlement and permit OSHA access to the stores to verify compliance with the settlement agreement and determine if cited conditions were addressed.

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Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.