OSHA proposes nearly $200K in fines against CVS for hazards at Brooklyn store

September 17, 2013 From U.S. Department of Labor
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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited a CVS store in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn for exit access and other hazards at the retailer’s 2151 86th St. pharmacy.

“Unfortunately, this is not the first time OSHA has cited CVS for several of these hazards, and it may not be the last, if violations continue to recur,” said Kay Gee, OSHA’s area director for Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. “CVS needs to address these hazards to ensure safe and healthful working conditions at its locations. The safety and well-being of its employees depends on it.”

Recurring hazards include an obstructed exit route; unsecured and unstable stacks of boxes stored close to fire sprinkler heads; a stairway narrowed to an unsafe width by a conveyor; floors covered by a disorganized assortment of boxes, garbage bags and loose merchandise; and an uncovered electrical junction box. These conditions exposed employees to crushing and struck-by injuries, slips, trips, falls, electric shock and an inability to exit the store swiftly and safely during a fire or emergency. These conditions resulted in the issuance of five repeat citations, with $169,000 in fines.

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A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Similar hazards were cited between 2010 and 2012 at CVS stores in Orange, Conn.; Garden City and Sunnyside; and East Providence, R.I.

Five serious citations, carrying $30,500 in proposed fines, involve a locked gate in front of an emergency exit, a stuck and difficult-to-open fire exit door; blocked access to a fire extinguisher, lack of fire extinguisher training for employees and a missing stairway handrail. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Caremark Corp. is the largest pharmacy health care provider in the country, with more than 3,700 pharmacies/stores nationwide. It has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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