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OSHA Fines Lowe’s $55K for Hazards

Friday, December 21, 2012

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Lowe's Home Centers Inc. faces federal fines totaling $55,000 for exposing workers to electrical and other hazards following safety inspections at its Killeen, TX, location.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the world's second-largest home improvement retailer with three serious and two repeat alleged violations.

Lowes Home Centers
Lowe's Home Centers

OSHA uncovered the alleged safety violations as part of a site-specific targeting program for workplaces with high rates of injury or illness.

Mooresville, NC-based Lowe’s employs approximately 248,000 workers, of which about 182 are employed in Killeen, the federal agency said.

Lowe's spokeswoman Karen Cobb said in a statement: "The safety and well-being of employees and customers is a Lowe’s core value, and we dedicate substantial resources to our safety programs. The inspection occurred in September and, after the inspection, we reviewed and addressed any issues. We intend to follow the process for responding to OSHA citations."

Site-Specific Probe

OSHA said it began inspecting the Killeen store in September as part of the agency's "Site-Specific Targeting Program." 

The program directs enforcement resources to "high-hazard workplaces where high injury and illness rates occur," according to the agency.

The Killeen store was one of more than a dozen Lowe's locations nationwide cited by OSHA for a variety of hazards this year, according to agency records. In 2011, the agency issued some two dozen citations against Lowe's locations in a variety of states. Most of the violations were relatively minor

The two most serious cases of 2011 involved a forklift accident at an Alabama location and nine citations, including four serious, issued against a Maryland store.

Violations: Two Repeat...

OSHA cited Lowe's with two repeat violations for failing to mount fire extinguishers and guard or cover exposed live parts on fluorescent lamp holders.

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.

In 2009, Lowe's was cited for similar violations at the Holmdel, NJ, retail store.

“OSHA will not tolerate a company’s repeated negligence in failing to keep workers safe from possible injuries,” said Casey Perkins, OSHA’s area director in Austin. “Exposure to electrical hazards puts workers at risk of electric shock or possibly electrocution.”

...And Three Serious

OSHA also cited the company for three serious violations, including failing to:

  • Illuminate exit signs;
  • Protect exposed lamps from possible breakage or contact; and
  • Guard electrical receptacles with exposed current-carrying parts.

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Founded in 1946, Lowe’s has grown from a small hardware store to the second-largest home improvement retailer worldwide. The company operates more than 1,745 stores in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The stores sell a wide range of products, including paints and coatings.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s Austin Area Office or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

 

 

   

Tagged categories: Enforcement; Government; hardware stores; Health and safety; OSHA

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