The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reached a settlement agreement with the Target Corporation, resolving several cases before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Target agreed to pay $464,750 in penalties to resolve a series of eight cases at the review commission.
The company also agreed to correct exit access and storage hazards and enhance worker safety at about 200 of its stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York.
OSHA cited eight Target locations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York between May and December 2019 for numerous violations involving blocked or obstructed access to emergency exits and fire exit routes and/or unsafe storage of materials in stores’ backrooms and storage areas.
Target Corp. initially contested the citations before the review commission but agreed to pay reduced penalties and implement enhanced safety measures to abate and prevent egress and storage issues at all Target stores in the 4 states over the next 2 years.
“Obstructed emergency exit access impedes employees’ ability to exit swiftly in the event of a fire or other emergency and unsafe storage of materials exposes employees to crushing and struck-by hazards,” Galen Blanton, OSHA’s regional administrator in Boston, Massachusetts, said in a statement.
New York Regional Administrator Richard Mendelson said, “Under this agreement, Target Corporation is taking steps to proactively address and prevent two of the major safety hazards in the retail industry and maintain safe working conditions for its employees.”
Target agreed to build upon its existing safety programs with the following commitments:
- Authorizing stores’ management to delay incoming delivery of inventory if necessary to ensure safe egress conditions;
- Authorizing stores’ management to requisition additional storage capacity, such as storage trailer or off-site storage space, if needed to ensure safe egress conditions;
- Conducting surveillance camera monitoring of egress conditions at select “high-risk” stores;
- Having outside managers visit each store at least twice a year to monitor egress safety and address any problems;
- Arranging unannounced third-party audits of egress safety at each store at least once a year, with a second audit the next quarter if a store fails the initial audit;
- Retraining all affected employees on issues covered by settlement; and
- Permitting OSHA access to the stores to verify compliance with the settlement agreement and determine if cited conditions have been addressed.
Target also agreed to submit an annual summary report to OSHA on its agreed-upon enhanced abatement actions. The company also agreed to establish anonymous employee complaint reporting via telephone hotline and/or online so employees can submit safety- or egress-related complaints.
During the unannounced third-party audits, auditors will ensure pathways leading to exits are at least 28 inches wide at all points.
OSHA area offices in Bridgeport and Hartford, Connecticut; Braintree, North Andover, and Springfield, Massachusetts; Long Island, New York; and Avenel, New Jersey, which has jurisdiction for stores in Staten Island, New York, conducted the original inspections.
“We are pleased that Target Corporation has chosen to resolve these cases by taking positive steps in worker safety, and we invite other retail employers to consider taking similar actions to protect their employees’ safety and health,” New York Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey S. Rogoff said in an agency statement.