Blocked fire exits, lack of foot protection and dangerously stacked merchandise were among the hazards discovered recently at a California distribution center by the state’s Department of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA).
The agency has issued a dozen citations against Olivet International – six of them serious – with fines totaling more than $34,000.
A state inspection of the Olivet facility conducted in May uncovered blocked fire exits, blocked aisles, merchandise stacked without proper support, no plan to respond to on-the-job injuries, no effective training for heat-related illnesses and a lack of adequate foot protection, including steel-toed boots.
The May inspection was the result of requests by Olivet employees and advocacy group Warehouse Workers United (WWU). Some workers claim they were retaliated against by supervisors after contacting Cal/OSHA – which led to a two-day strike at the distribution center in July.
WWU has filed two unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), alleging a pattern of surveillance and intimidation. The group alleges that the suspension of ten workers in August was due to their taking a heat-related work break. The workers were reinstated several days later.
The NLRB complaints have not yet been resolved.
Cal/OSHA says Olivet has 15 business days to appeal the citations.
The company manufactures luggage items and ships them to retailers.