Exits at a Ohio United Parcel Service (UPS) distribution center weren’t just temporarily blocked, according to the OSHA inspectors; some were permanently blocked.

The company was cited for repeatedly putting workers at risk by obstructing exit routes at its Sharonville, Ohio, distribution center and faces $208,603 in proposed penalties for those violations.

A 7" wide aisle

The problem went beyond that facility, though; OSHA inspectors determined that UPS failed to maintain exit routes at multiple facility locations. A roller extension unloader device was permanently located and attached to a belt conveyor limiting the access route, management allowed packages to accumulate in aisles, and some access routes were reduced to just seven inches.

"Failing to maintain required access routes is a serious hazard that can puts workers’ safety at risk, especially in an emergency evacuation situation," said OSHA Area Office Director Ken Montgomery, in Cincinnati. "This employer’s failure to follow required exit route safety requirements has been cited at other UPS facilities. Maintaining safe, well-marked exit routes must be part of a comprehensive safety and health program at all facilities."

Contesting the citations

The company is contesting the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.