Popular home improvement chain Lowe’s Cos. Inc. has been cited for five repeat and one serious safety violation for exposing workers to electrical hazards and failing to provide information on respiratory protection to employees at its Zanesville store. OSHA initiated the inspection in March 2014 after the store reported a higher than average injury rate. Proposed penalties total $53,240.
“Lowe’s has a responsibility to train its managers and workers nationwide to maintain safe working conditions. In this case, multiple stores across the country have been cited for similar hazards, but the chain has failed to address them at all locations and create a culture of safety for all workers,” said Deborah Zubaty, OSHA’s area director in Columbus. “Electrical safe work practices and respiratory protection are among the 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards.”
The repeat electrical violations involve using cords in lieu of fixed wiring, failing to guard live parts of electrical equipment adequately against accidental contact and not closing unused openings in electrical panels. Repeat violations were cited for failing to provide workers with information on the voluntary use of respiratory protection and improperly handling flammable liquid storage containers.
OSHA issues repeat violations if an employer was previously cited for the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Lowe’s was cited for similar violations at home improvement stores in New York, Kansas, Texas, Louisiana and Florida between 2009 and 2014.
A serious violation also was cited for not installing and using electrical equipment in accordance with listed or labeled instructions. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exits.
Lowe’s, based in Mooresville, N.C., 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 Columbus office at 614-469-5582.
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.