The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has fined an Ohio Dollar General store $156,772 for blocking exit routes with merchandise. Blocking exit routes is a workplace fire hazard.
OSHA inspectors carrying out an investigation discovered the Dollar General store had blocked rapid access to fire extinguishers and electrical panels. Employees would have had a difficult time fleeing, putting out fires with fire extinguishers or shutting off the power.
This is not Dollar General’s first time being investigated and fined. OSHA has uncovered more than 100 safety and health violations since 2010 at Dollar General stores across the country. Dollar General has faced more than $1 million in fines from these violations.
Keep in mind, $156,772 in fines, or even $1 million, is insignificant to a company that reported more than $20.4 billion in sales during 2015.
How Can Employers Prevent Workplace Fire Hazards?
OSHA requires workplaces to have easily accessible fire exits that enable crowds of workers to exit buildings quickly. These exits cannot be blocked or locked while workers are inside. Exit signs must also be properly marked.
OSHA also requires workplaces to have firefighting tools and alarms that are properly labeled with instructions for use. Finally, emergency action plans should be established to inform workers on how to exit buildings.
Every year in the U.S., fires and explosions are responsible for 200 workplace deaths and 5,000 injuries. Workers that survive fires can suffer from disfigurement and post-traumatic stress disorder. For these reasons, it is important for employers to minimize fire risks and to abide by OSHA fire regulations.
The Ohio workers’ compensation attorneys at Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC can help injured workers secure benefits needed to recover.