Bay Ridge Ave Rite Aid slapped with safety violations

September 17, 2011 Denise Romano
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A local drugstore has been slapped with more than $100,000 infines by the federal government for allegedly compromising thesafety of its workers.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) hascited the Rite Aid located at 6900 Fourth Avenue for numerous andrepeated violations of safety standards, including an emergencyexit blocked by garbage and debris, unsafely stacked merchandise,electrical panels blocked by cardboard and totes containingmerchandise, an ungrounded electric power strip and employeesexposed to an electrical hazard while stacking stock.

For these violations, OSHA fined the drugstore $93,500 as arepeat offender. According to OSHA, a repeat offender is someonewho has failed to meet these requirements more than once in thepast five years.

But that’s not all.

In addition, OSHA has deemed the stairway to the basementstorage room too steep, too narrow and lacking slip resistanttreads; there is an eight-foot fall hazard for employees standingon the top of a ladder to store stock; boxes of merchandise arebeing used to open an emergency exit door; there are no portablefire extinguishers in a basement storage room and there is notenough working interlock to prevent a box crusher from operatingwhile its door is open.

These conditions resulted in $27,600 worth of fines for seriousviolations – which means that an employee could be seriously hurtor killed as a result.

Those who shop at the store said they were not surprised to hearthe allegations.

I did notice a lot of water on the floor and a mess on therug, said Connie Wayne, who lives in Borough Park and usuallyshops at a location near her home, but visits this Bay Ridge Avenuestore when she picks up her grandson who attends a nearby school.The one I normally go to is very clean and clear. The staff ishelpful and everything is in order.

Alfonso Ferrer, who lives two blocks away, said he will never gointo this store again because they don’t stock what he needs. It’snot dirty or anything, but I won’t go back there, he said. It’snot the workers’ fault. It’s just poor management. Big stores likethis shouldn’t have this problem; they should always have enoughprescriptions in stock.

But Shely Sims was amazed by the news. I am surprised to hear,she said, adding that she shops there often. I feel thateverything in there is clean and safe.

A store employee admitted being unaware of the fines. I don’tknow anything about it, said the worker, who wished to remainanonymous. I feel safe here.

A spokesperson for Rite Aid said, This is something we takevery seriously and are working closely with OSHA on thesematters.

Rite Aid has 15 business days to pay the fines, meet with OSHAor contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safetyand Health Review Commission.

One might not think of a store as a hazardous workplace, butthe fact is that these conditions expose workers to potentiallydeadly falls, crushing injuries, burns and electrocution, as wellas the inability of workers and customers to exit swiftly in theevent of a fire or other emergency, said Kay Gee, OSHA’s Manhattanarea director in a statement. The sizable fines proposed herereflect both the severity of these hazards and the reality thatthis employer previously has been cited for similarconditions.

Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York, added,For the safety and health of all its employees, the company shouldseek to identify such hazards at all of its locations and correctthem if they exist.


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