US Department of Labor’s OSHA proposes $110,700 in penalties
CHICAGO — Home Depot USA Inc. has been cited for six, including two repeat, one willful and three serious safety violations, at its home improvement store on North Kimball Avenue in Chicago. The repeat and willful violations involved lack of training and maintenance for powered industrial vehicles. Proposed penalties total $110,700.
“Employees at this Home Depot store used powered industrial vehicles around-the-clock to receive stock and transport goods to customers’ vehicles. This made maintenance and operator training for these vehicles vital to employee safety,” said Angeline Loftus, OSHA’s area director for Chicago North. “Employers, such as Home Depot, have a responsibility to re-evaluate safety procedures corporatewide. When cited for a hazard at one store, they need to ensure that all stores have incorporated the necessary safety procedures and training.”
Nationwide, Home Depot has been cited more than 120 times in the past five years for safety and health violations at its stores, which employ about 325,000 people. The Kimball Avenue store employs 210 workers.
OSHA opened the Jan. 27, 2014, inspection under the Local Emphasis Program for Powered Industrial Vehicles. Yearly, thousands of workers are injured, sometimes fatally, while operating these vehicles. The local emphasis program was implemented to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries caused by these vehicles. The vehicles have been the source of 105 occupational fatalities during fiscal years 2005 through 2013 in Illinois, Wisconsin and Ohio.
OSHA issued one willful violation for failing to remove from service a powered industrial truck in need of repair. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
A repeat violation was issued for failing to evaluate forklift operators’ performance at least once every three years. The Home Depot was previously cited for this violation at its Douglasville, Georgia, store in July 2012. A second repeat violation was issued for failing to perform shift-by-shift inspections of forklifts. This violation was previously cited in 2010 at Home Depot stores in Tampa, Florida, and Chicago. 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.
Three serious violations were issued for exposing workers to chemical burns from sulfuric acid by failing to require the use of eye, face and hand protection when adding water or checking water levels in powered industrial vehicle batteries. Home Depot also failed to provide an eyewash station for immediate emergency use for employees exposed to injurious corrosive materials while working with industrial batteries. 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.
To view the citations, visit http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/HomeDepot_956370_072414.pdf.
Home Depot USA has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Chicago North Area Office at 847-803-4800.
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 ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.